Paul George earned the nickname "Pandemic P" in 2020 after he played a large role in how the Los Angeles Clippers blew a 3-1 lead in the bubble playoffs in Orlando. He performed much better in this year's postseason and was as good as anyone could have hoped for after Kawhi Leonard went down with a knee injury, but the Pandemic P moniker will follow him forever. One does not easily excise that kind of demon.
Unfortunately, it has also opened the door to attempts at putting similar labels on other players who struggle in big spots. Enter Skip Bayless, who spent a chunk of Undisputed today arguing that Trae Young's first playoff run wasn't actually that good and maybe we should think about calling him Pandemic Trae.
The biggest issue with this off the bat is that Pandemic Trae sounds just bad. Especially when "Terrible Trae" is right there for the taking. I get why he went for the pandemic aspect of it to present a parallel with Paul George, but still.
It's also obviously ridiculous to say this. George got lambasted because he's been in the league for nearly a decade, gave himself the Playoff P nickname, and failed to deliver when it mattered the most despite his extensive postseason experience and the fact that Leonard was there to take away a chunk of the defense's attention. Young, on the other hand, had never played playoff basketball before and his most effective teammate offensively was... Kevin Huerter? John Collins? Bogdan Bogdanovich? All solid players, to be sure, but not exactly Kawhi Leonard-level compatriots. Despite all this, Young joined LeBron freaking James as one of two players to average at least 28 points and nine assists in a postseason run that lasted more than 15 games.
Young had his struggles. He was a big negative in the final game of the Hawks' season while he was hobbling around on a hurt ankle. He had multiple sub-40 percent shooting nights from the floor over the course of the postseason. No player in history was perfect all the time throughout a playoff debut. It's still impressive he managed to do what he did and make it as far as Atlanta managed.
Pandemic Trae isn't going to be a thing, is the point. Despite the efforts of Bayless.