For years Paul George joining the Los Angeles Lakers was widely considered a foregone conclusion. Matters appeared to be coming to a head in 2017 when George requested a trade from the Indiana Pacers.
But as the Lakers refused to include Brandon Ingram in their offer, the Pacers sought out other suitors. The Oklahoma City Thunder emerged, rolling the dice on what could have been a one-year rental.
George wound up re-signing this past summer on a four-year contract, spurning the Lakers without so much as granting them a meeting in free agency. He attributed the decision to Oklahoma City being aggressive to take the chance on a trade, and also the friendships that had been developed.
Wednesday marked George’s first time playing at Staples Center since remaining with Oklahoma City, and the treatment he received from Lakers fans was plenty different than previous seasons.
Russell Westbrook received a loud ovation. Paul George, not so much. pic.twitter.com/tc67dSLIKS
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) January 3, 2019
As George was playing out the final year of his contract, he was showered with cheers and a near standing ovation when playing in Los Angeles. One fan sitting courtside went so far as to wear a custom Lakers jersey with George’s name on the back.
The Southern California native expressed an appreciation for the warm welcoming, which further fueled speculation he would sign with the Lakers. That also was a factor in the fanbase being outraged at his decision to remain with the Thunder, and thus harsh treatment on Wednesday.
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