For the first time since 2018 free agency, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder are set to play the Los Angeles Lakers when they meet at Staples Center on Wednesday night.
Despite being consistently linked to his hometown team, George did not so much as meet with the Lakers and immediately re-signed with the Thunder on a four-year, $ 137 million contract the minute July 1 rolled around.
As George has since spoken about the decision-making process numerous times, it will ultimately not be a friendly return to Los Angeles.
Lance Stephenson, who played with George from the 2010-14 and 2016-17 seasons as a member of the Indiana Pacers, revealed he still maintains a relationship with him, via Lakers:
“We talk. We friends. On holidays we talk, keep in touch, we play in video games together sometimes. But for the most part, yeah, that’s my boy.”
Stephenson shed further light on the affinity for he and George share for NBA 2K, and an attempt to have his air guitar celebration incorporated in the game:
“We play 2K. We’ve got our MyPLAYERS and we go and play in pro-am. We play with each other. We ain’t lose a game yet. … We created our own players and then we go online and we created a team to play against other guys online. … I think I’m better, of course. … My player name is ‘Born Ready.’ … I told Ronnie from 2K he’s got to put the air guitar in there. Update the game, for sure.”
Heading into 2018 free agency, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka envisioned signing George and LeBron James with their two max-contract slots. While the 28-year-old did what was best for him, his SportsCenter series and how he handled the situation angered fans.
When the Lakers signed James, they signed Stephenson shortly after, which was a surprising move considering their history. Although Stephenson’s role has been inconsistent through 37 games, head coach Luke Walton can rely on him to provide energy off the bench along with his signature air guitar celebrations.
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