The Los Angeles Lakers and their fans’ thirst for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George has never exactly been a secret, but it bubbled over when the two teams played last week as the Staples Center faithful serenaded the free-agent-to-be with chants of “We Want George” as the Lakers upset the Thunder 106-81.
George responded fairly tepidly to those chants, saying it was nice to get cheered in his hometown but claiming he didn’t hear that the fans were specifically chanting that they wanted him.
He was considerably more enthusiastic and welcoming when Thunder fans busted out the same chant for him, as George scored 33 points in Oklahoma City’s home win over the Memphis Grizzlies. He even said the chants affected the way he was trying to play, via Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman:
“I loved it,” George said after a 33-point, eight-assist night. “I loved every bit, every second. It was why I was trying to get to the line, honestly. Trying to hear more of that.”
Thunder fans trying to make George feel wanted as he gets closer and closer to the end of his one (and potentially only) season with the franchise makes sense. Because while George leaving wouldn’t be a cataclysm on the level of when Kevin Durant bolted for the Golden State Warriors, it would leave the team fairly hopeless for the rest of Russell Westbrook’s prime.
That potential outcome is probably leaving Thunder fans a bit antsy about George’s upcoming free agency decision. Especially when the Thunder’s main argument for him to stay is based around the team being good but George has said that he’ll make his decision based on what is best for his family.
There is still a long way to go until July 1, so this probably won’t be the last tug of war between Lakers and Thunder fans, and it will be worth watching how much Oklahoma City’s public recruitment escalates from here.
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