On July 4, 2016, Kevin Durant made the big decision to move into the next chapter of his life by taking his talents to Golden State from Oklahoma City. I won’t begin talking about that.
I’m here to talk about Paul George, who made the decision on July 1 to keep his talents in Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant left Oklahoma for the star-studded team on the west coast and George, a southern California native, turned down the opportunity to play with a generational great in Lebron James and possibly another star, all in the name of loyalty.
Thunder fans have been in a state of despair since losing Durant. Since then, everything has been uncertain. During the summer of 2016, the concern was about Durant staying or leaving, he left. Following that decision came an exciting 2016-2017 MVP campaign from Westbrook and a playoff appearance but headed into that offseason, the question was whether or not OKC could get Westbrook to sign a contract extension. Once General Manager Sam Presti accomplished that, the focus of the offseason was getting Westbrook some help. Presti checked that box by acquiring Paul George and Carmelo Anthony off trades, which was spectacular, but the uncertainty didn’t cease there.
It was a widespread understanding that OKC was just a layoff en route to Los Angeles for George and Sam Presti was gambling. Finally, for the first time in three years, the Thunder will enter the season with certainty and a great core to build on.
If y’all don’t quite get it. Let me say it again, I’m here to stay.
This makes George’s decision the complete opposite of Durant’s. Him moving to Los Angeles would’ve made sense. It’s where he’s wanted to be for the past two seasons and it’s where he’s from. Understandable. But him turning down an opportunity to play with James and potentially another star or two, just to remain loyal to the Thunder and play alongside Westbrook is him patting OKC on the back and putting his arms around the entire fanbase.
Thunder fans are happy, but much of the NBA world questions his decision. They wonder why he would turn down the chance to play with Lebron for a 29-year-old stubborn point guard in Westbrook?
“If y’all don’t quite get it,” said George while Westbrook stood next to him, hyping him up. “Let me say it again: I’m here to stay.”
George was damned either way he turned. If he chose to join the Lakers with Lebron immediately following, he would have continued the trend of NBA of players not being loyal to a franchise. Instead, he chose to do what NBA fans seem to miss by remaining loyal. Still, somehow, George is criticized for not following the King.
Fact: George would look great in a Laker jersey. The duo of he and Lebron would give the Warriors problems but if you think about it, Westbrook, George and a reliable center in Steven Adams is a viable threat to Golden State as well, if orchestrated correctly. All the Thunder need are reliable role players. One or two more than they have. The Lakers are potentially one superstar and more development from their core away from being a threat. George chose the already-established team over the team that still has some question marks and a ton of youth surrounding it.
Paul George’s decision gives Thunder fans some certainty moving forward. They now have two all-star caliber players locked up for an extended period of time, along with a reliable center and a rapidly developing Jerami Grant. If they can add a few bench pieces to their roster, George’s decision will prove to be the right one.