Since Paul George informed the Indiana Pacers of his preference, there’s been a widespread expectation he would one day wind up with the Los Angeles Lakers. Rampant speculation led to the Lakers being slapped with a fine for tampering, but their interest remains unchanged.
On Wednesday, Lakers fans were presented with an opportunity to carry forward with the unofficial recruitment of George. One fan who sat courtside, a couple seats away from George’s agent, wore a No. 13 customized Lakers jersey with George’s name on the back.
Those in attendnance showered him with a loud ovation during pregame introductions, and it resonated with the Palmdale, Calif., native.
“It was awesome, for one. Just being home, being in front of friends, family. And the respect, the love, the recruitment. It was awesome to get that love and energy,” George said.
The four-time All-Star is no stranger to a warm reception from a road crowd, particularly in games played at Staples Center. But he called Wednesday’s adoration “definitely more” than previous instances.
Beyond playing in front of a favorable crowd at Staples Center, George’s homecoming meant his parents and close friends were able to watch him in person. After making a 3-pointer that prompted Lakers head coach to call a timeout, George went to hug his parents.
“For them to be in the Staples Center, just as much as me playing out there, it means that much more for them,” he said. George added he gave his mother and father some grief for arriving late.
Whether or not George ultimately ends up playing for the Lakers, he will always have a sense of comfort at Staples Center. “This is home, it’s comfortable for me,” George said. “It’s just great to be home, playing in front of friends.”
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