Paul George on Boos from Lakers Fans: 'I Took It with Respect,' Says It Was Fun

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George reacts after making a basket during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 107-100. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George didn't take issue with fans booing him during OKC's 107-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center in L.A. on Wednesday.

According to ESPN.com's Royce Young, George took everything in stride:

"I'm not the only SoCal kid from this area that didn't play here. But I took it with respect. This is an unbelievable organization. [I have] the utmost respect for everybody in their [front] office, for this city. You know, I'm a SoCal native. It's always love here, regardless of the boos tonight. I mean, it is what it is. I came out here, I played my heart out, and I just have fun with it."

George is a Palmdale, California, native, and it was widely expected that he would sign with the Lakers when he hit free agency in the 2018 offseason.

Instead, PG-13 re-signed with the Thunder to continue alongside guard Russell Westbrook.

The boos started early on, as Lakers fans jeered at George during player introductions, per Ben Golliver of the Washington Post:

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Thunder’s Paul George booed by Staples Center crowd during introductions after passing on Lakers without a free-agency meeting https://t.co/yYvl4biThT

George divulged that he is already looking forward to the next game against the Lakers after enjoying Wednesday's experience:

"It was fun, it was fun. I look forward to the second time, later this season, where I'll be booed, and that's in the Midwest. It was fun. I enjoyed it regardless. The booing wasn't going to throw me off my game. I've been playing basketball for a really long time and a little booing and a little noise is not going to make me forget how to play basketball."

While the boos partly had to do with George's decision to sign with OKC, they were also a result of his dominant performance against the Lakers.

George scored a game-high 37 points on 15-of-29 shooting against a Lakers team that was once again without LeBron James due to a groin injury.

PG-13 revealed Wednesday that he likely would have been putting on that performance in a Lakers uniform had the Thunder not acquired him in a trade with the Indiana Pacers: "I wanted to play in L.A. That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform."

The decision to re-sign with the Thunder has paid dividends for George so far this season, as OKC is third in the Western Conference at 24-13 and trails the Denver Nuggets by just one game for first place.

George will face the Lakers two more times during the 2018-19 regular season, but both of those games will be in Oklahoma City, with the next one taking place on Jan. 17.

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