When Paul George learned a trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder was a
possibility, it was natural to seek out a peer who has already
walked in those shoes.
George was traded to the Thunder earlier this month after seven
seasons with the Indiana Pacers.
He talked to MVP Russell Westbrook about Oklahoma City and reached
out to Kevin Durant, once a mainstay All-Star in OKC, who had no
motive for steering George to the Thunder.
“KD was like, ‘That place (Oklahoma City) will blow you away.’ He
told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the
people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and
the meals.’ He was pretty high on (the Thunder). He thought it was
a first-class organization in every way,”Â George said in a Sports
Durant left Oklahoma City in free agency one year ago, and won the
NBA championship last month with the Golden State Warriors.
George was frustrated in Indiana and with one year remaining on his
contract, helped force his way out of the Eastern Conference and
into the dogpile of contenders in the West, where the likes of the
Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Thunder will be chasing
The thick of a title hunt is exactly where George wants to be. His
contract situation — and any long-term discussions with the
Thunder — are secondary for now.
“There’s no right way to handle it,” George told SI. “I get the
frustration. I get why (fans) are upset. But at the same time, I
want the average fan to understand that we only get a small window
to play this game and more than anything you want to be able to
play for a championship. I wanted to bring that to Indiana. I
really did. I love Indiana. That will always be a special place for
me and I’m sorry for not holding on. But I wasn’t sure we’d ever
get a team together to compete for a championship and that’s where
all this came from.”
George did not entirely dismiss the public sentiment that he’s
planning to reach free agency in July 2018 for the opportunity to
entertain playing in his hometown of Los Angeles.
George said he will always idolize Kobe Bryant and loved the Lakers
and Clippers growing up.
“There will always be a tie (to Los Angeles), a connection,” he
said. “People saying I want to come here, who doesn’t want to play
for their hometown? That’s a dream come true, if you’re a kid
growing up on the outskirts of L.A., to be the man in your city.
But it’s definitely been overstated.
“For me, it’s all about winning. I want to be in a good system, a
good team. I want a shot to win it. I’m not a stats guy. I’m
playing this game to win and build a legacy of winning. I’ve yet to
do that. I’m searching for it. If we get a killer season in
Oklahoma, we make the conference finals or upset the Warriors or do
something crazy, I’d be dumb to want to leave that.”