Paul George isn’t sorry he’s with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He is, however, sorry for how things ended with the Indiana Pacers.
As he told Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star in Oklahoma City this week:
“First and foremost, I want to give thanks to Indiana as a state, for embracing me and my family for seven years of being there,” said George during a one-on-one interview. “I learned so much being there. They taught me so much.
“Obviously, I’m human. Things could have been done a lot better. The process, that whole ordeal could have been done a lot better. I’ll share some of that responsibility. But at the end of the day, I did what was best for myself, what was best for my family. I had to move on. It was the right decision for myself. I’m happy. I’m happy with what the results were.”
Things between George and Pacers ended awkwardly after seven seasons, with the former requesting a trade much to the surprise and dismay of general manager Kevin Pritchard. Reports have since come out that Pritchard may have killed a deal that would have landed George in Cleveland. And we know the Los Angeles Lakers were fined for tampering after they had illegal contact with George’s camp.
In other words: George is smart to offer this apology. But he isn’t necessarily obligated to feel bad. He left writing on the wall. His infatuation with the Lakers was the worst-kept secret in the NBA. That Pritchard was taken aback by his trade request says more about him, his predecessor Larry Bird or the Pacers’ organization as a whole.
Could George have handled the situation better? Of course. Having eyes for another team while still playing for the only franchise you’ve ever known isn’t the greatest form. But the Pacers had fallen out of contention, and he was nice enough to give them a heads up about where he was at. While no one needs to like his decision, or how his exit ultimately came about, everyone should be, on some level, able to respect it.