(via USA Today FTW)

NBA stars are supposed to shine brightest in the most important moments. Kobe, MJ, LeBron, and Curry are just a few examples of guys who have continually stepped up when their teams have needed them to, and it has become the mark of greatness.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, their stars shrank under the pressure this season and it cost them their ticket to the Western Conference Finals.

For Paul George especially, the nature of his performance led to an unprecedented amount of criticism and slander throughout the community, including from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who stated he could become the next “Dwight Howard.”

“We can’t ignore the situation involved with Paul George. I’m here to tell you, Max — one of the nicest dudes you’re ever gonna meet in your life, impossible to root against. He is a star in this league.

But nevertheless, boy did he not show up. It was brick city, it was a straight choke job on his part as well, and the biggest thing about Paul George that he needs to pay attention to: Paul George is in danger of becoming the second-coming of Dwight Howard.

Remember, Dwight Howard was the man in Orlando just like Paul George was the man in Indiana. He wanted to leave, he goes to L.A., he ends up going to Houston and then, before long, he’s a journeyman in Washington, Charlotte, etcetera because the star he was was, was no more. And because of that, everybody says, ‘you never should have left Orlando.’

If you’re Paul George, you were in Indiana, then OKC, now you’re in L.A. with the Clippers.”

Dwight was never the same after he left Orlando. For one reason or another, there was always something keeping him from being the dominant player he used to be, whether it was an injury, his own attitude, or the environment itself.

Paul George is still a long way from the downward spiral Howard went on, but he’s not immune to suffering a similar fate if he doesn’t start to turn things around.

PG13 has to step up in the playoffs and in the fourth quarter of close-out games if the Clippers want to win and avoid another hit to his legacy. There’s just no other way around it.