The Oklahoma City Thunder’s newest forward, Paul George, played his first game against his ex-Pacers on Wednesday night, and both he and his former coach weren’t afraid to admit why he wanted away from the city that he spent his first 7 NBA seasons in.
According to a piece by the Indianapolis Star, head coach, Nate McMillan, cited leaderships issues as the reason George wanted out of Indiana:
“You have to be yourself, and not try to be something that you’re not. I think Paul just wanted to play. The leadership, and the captain, and all of that? Sometimes people put you in that position because of your status. I think his thing was, ‘You take care of you, and I take care of me. Get yourself ready to play.’ Going to OKC, he’s back in that role of — I play. The leader is going to be Westbrook. I can go here and play.”
George responded with his own reasoning behind his exit:
“I wanted some assurances of what the team was going to look like... it got to the point where it was on my shoulders, with the guys that were being brought in. I didn’t want that burden, not knowing the certainty of how long I was going to be there. I didn’t want to put anyone in a position where ‘Well, Paul steered them one way, and then he left.“
While it’s still unclear where George’s career will take him, we do know what he’s capable of, and has and will continue to be a vital part of OKC’s season success. It should also be noted how many times George acknowledged OKC was Russell Westbrook’s team, and would use that as an advantage to provide more support for the team.
Whether or not George is ready, or will ever be ready to lead a team is one thing. Many aren’t cut out to house the responsibility of others on their shoulders, and frankly, if George can replicate the scoring abilities we’ve seen in the past alongside Westbrook, OKC will undoubtedly provide some entertaining basketball.