So, Paul George just signed a max contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The contract is a 4 year/ $136,911,936 deal and that makes the Thunder the most expensive team in NBA history at over 300 mil. “Woah woah woah, so you’re telling me that Paul just signed with the team that Kevin Durant left just two years ago??” Yes, that’s exactly right. This story has gotten lost in the weeds because of all of the LeBron, Lakers, Kawhi, ect. story-lines. Frankly, it’s embarrassing that sports media hasn’t talked about how incredibly important this signing was in so many different regards.
You guys should probably buckle up.
Let’s start with how Paul George even ended up with the Thunder in the first place. Paul was acquired by OKC from the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. That’s right, he was TRADED to OKC, he did not choose to be in Oklahoma. In fact, he made it public that he would prefer to go to LA to play for the Lakers in the midst of all trade talks while he was being shopped. The Thunder’s incredible organization, who have drafted three MVPs (Harden, Westbrook, and Durant) since 2007, were able to bring George in. After the trade, Paul’s new teammate to be was Russel Westbrook. With Russel’s “ball-centric” style of play, he has often been portrayed as a bad teammate, especially after Kevin Durant (a.k.a. The Cupcake) left Oklahoma City to go to Golden State. And that’s where things get interesting.
Preface: I think KD is wildly gifted and a all-time great scorer. However, he is no longer respectable after he made the weakest move in NBA history.
Kevin Durant’s move to the Warrior’s was unprecedented, and entirely laughable. That’s how much of a loser, coward, and simply lazy move it was. I’m sure we all remember what had all transpired just before Kevin Durant signed with the Warrior’s, right?
If you want a quick refresher, here you go (optional):
During the 2015-2016 season, Golden State finished the regular season with the best record of all time (73-9). They were talked about as being the best team ever assembled, historically great. That same season, Steph Curry won the MVP award unanimously. GS powered through the playoffs until losing to LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals, blowing a 3-1 lead. Remember, though, that just because they lost the finals, doesn’t at all discount how amazing that Warriors team was. LeBron is just THAT spectacular. In that same playoffs, the Thunder, led by KD made it to the Western conference finals where they held a 3-1 series lead against the Golden State Warriors. Yep, the GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS. They had it in the bag, all they had to do was not absolutely choke. What happened next, you ask? The Thunder blew it. Sure Kevin scored 30 points a game in the series, but that was off of an abysmal 42.3% shooting. He also only averaged 2.9 assists in the 7 games so he didn’t exactly make his teammates better. In game 6 and game 7, he under-performed and consequently, that was it for Oklahoma City’s season. So after the finals that season, free agency was on. People talked about Durant leaving to go to multiple different places or staying in OKC. There was almost no talk of him going to Golden State because it was so outrageous and unthinkable. He already had a great team with the Thunder who could have potentially ran it back and had a great chance to win it all the next year. Not to mention, all of the other great places he could have gone, besides the Warriors, instantly making that team a championship contender.
But he did go to the Warriors.
He joined to get a cheap ring with a team that was already all-time great. A type of cop-out move that had never been made before because he was afraid he wasn’t going to win a ring with the great roster he previously had with OKC.
Now, back to my main point. Paul is the polar opposite of Durant. George was faced with almost the exact same situation as Durant after the 2017-2018 season. PG lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Jazz, even further from the finals than Durant had been the season before he decided to leave. Paul was faced with making a decision, now. He doesn’t have a championship ring to show for all of his great accomplishments and obviously he wants one. But instead of doing what everyone thought he’d do and sign with the Lakers, he thought that signing with the Thunder would be the best way to create a unique legacy for himself. He choose to except the challenge and attempt to take Oklahoma City to heights that they’ve never been before. He said that he wanted to do things “the right way” and that “it wasn’t about loyalty or money.” Those were his own words. He also said that he “felt like he left something on the table,” when talking about losing in the first round of the playoffs. For that, I give him every ounce of respect in the world, and you should too.
See, that’s the difference between a competitor, and someone who’s still so insecure that he needs burner accounts. The decision that Paul George made recently, to put that Thunder jersey on again, put a spotlight on just how preposterous of a decision Kevin Durant made just two years ago.
I guess Kevin thought if you can’t beat em’, join em’ while Paul wants to compete for his own true legacy. And for that, Paul George is a bigger winner than Kevin Durant will ever be.