Before the 2014-15 NBA season got underway for the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 28, Henry Abbott of ESPN The Magazine wrote a scathing report about Kobe Bryant. Abbott used multiple unnamed sources to imply Kobe is the main reason for the Lakers recent struggles.
One of the sources claimed Indiana Pacers star Paul George was turned off with the prospect of joining the Lakers because of Kobe, via ESPN The Magazine:
Paul George, Angelino through and through, had once been the team’s safest choice. But sources say one reason the two-way star had re-signed with the Pacers in the fall of 2013 instead was that he was turned off by the thought that Bryant would police his efforts.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, George wasn’t happy about Abbott’s article implying that he didn’t want to play with Kobe:
Truth be told, Indiana’s Paul George was mortified a publication reported he didn’t want to play with Bryant on the Lakers. He had a $100 million max deal to stay with the contending Pacers, and never considered the possibility of leaving Indiana. George won’t soon forget Bryant texting him on George’s way into leg surgery this summer.
George even went as far as to tweet about Abbott’s article essentially denying the report altogether:
Now how crazy does that Kobe story sound to you ? #MediaReachingAgain
— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) October 20, 2014
George openly admitted idolizing Kobe while growing up in Palmdale, California back in April. George said the following about his childhood idol, via Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding:
“Anything you can think of. I had the Kobe jersey. I would do the Kobe walk. I would walk around the house doing the Kobe stare-down face. Anything you can name, I was idolizing him, trying to be like him.”
With George clearly a Kobe fan, it’s hard to imagine the up-and-comer passing on the prospect of playing alongside the five-time NBA champion while back home in Los Angeles given the opportunity.
Obviously, it’d be extremely difficult for any player, especially one that hadn’t already received a max deal yet, to sign with the Lakers for less money. George made the right move to stay with Indiana, but who knows what the future holds for the 24-year-old.
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