Paul George sounds like someone who will try to be the ultimate crowd-pleaser as he enters free agency.
During ESPN’s behind-the-scenes look at his offseason prep, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward said that he hopes to make most people happy when he decides where he’ll play next year (h/t Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman):
“I hope I make the majority of the people happy,” George says. “But ultimately it’s my decision and I want to be the happiest I can be with that decision. And I’m excited. I’m excited to go through this journey.”
This is a tough mindset to assume. There will always be those who are unhappy, verging on irate and heartbroken, with his decision. You cannot please everyone.
George seems to know this on some level. After all, he adds in the “but ultimately” disclaimer. Still, his approach to this whole process sounds eerily similar to Kevin Durant’s back in 2016. He, too, was so concerned with what people thought—though, his focus tended to be more so on his peers, and what they thought of him.
Is that what George is referencing here? Is he talking about the fans? Both?
Really, it doesn’t matter. He won’t ever be able to please everyone. Staying in Oklahoma City is the safest public-perception play. Thunder fans will be elated while those outside the circle will respect his decision to stay. But even that won’t apply to everyone. Los Angeles Lakers fans will be pissed he didn’t choose them. The Philadelphia 76ers and their fans will be in the same boat. The Indiana Pacers base will forever show disdain for what he does.
Which is why George, as he says, will inevitably need to make his decision irrespective of public opinion. He’s earned the right to become a free agent and pick where he plays. Those who disagree with his priorities—climate, money, proximity to a championship, etc.—must be viewed as ancillary noise. Easier said than done, sure, but necessary all the same.