Paul George has spent a good portion of his career being linked to the Los Angeles Lakers but after joining the Los Angeles Clippers it is for different reasons. George is now a rival of the Lakers and believes the Clippers have “gained some traction” on their neighbors.
“It’s just a great sports city, it’s a great sports town,” George explained to The Athletic’s Law Murray. “It’s funny just the rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers just within the city. I didn’t really understand it or see it growing up there. I just always thought [the] Lakers dominated it, which they did and they have based on championships and trophies but there’s a real rivalry in the city, on Lakers and Clippers. I think now, with myself, Kawhi joining, we gained some traction and some steam on fans loving us and enjoying this team.”
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George in 2018: ‘Had I Played 1 More Year in Indy, I Would Have Been in a Lakers Uniform’
George continues to haunt the Lakers for multiple reasons that span over several offseasons. The star opted to re-sign with the Thunder instead of joining the Lakers as many expected in 2018. A year later, George demanded a trade to Los Angeles but not to the Lakers.
Not only is George playing for the Lakers’ cross-town rival, but his move to the Clippers also played a part in the franchise missing out on pairing Kawhi Leonard with LeBron James. The Lakers were a finalist to sign Leonard before he opted to join the Clippers. During a 2018 interview with The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, George admitted he would be playing for the Lakers if the Pacers never traded him to the Thunder.
“It was 50-50 on deciding whether I wanted to come back home or if it was smarter to be in the situation I am in now,” George said at the time. “But it wasn’t overstated. 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.”
George on the Lakers vs. Clippers: ‘There’s a Real Rivalry Within the City’
Now, George is playing on a rival to the Lakers and the two teams were only separated by a half-game heading into the All-Star break. While the two teams may be virtually even in the standings, the Clippers will need to have some postseason success to truly “gain some traction” on the Lakers as George suggested. George noted he did not have a sense of the Lakers-Clippers rivalry until he was traded from Oklahoma City.
“Like I said, there’s a real rivalry within the city that I didn’t understand or recognize until I became a Clipper,” George explained, per The Athletic. “But it’s real, it’s fun, being a Southern California [native] and someone that grew up in the L.A. area, L.A. County. It’s just awesome to be able to have two really good basketball teams. I think L.A. is one of the hottest beds for NBA talent when you look at all the guys that are in the league, and all the upcoming talent coming from Southern California. It’s just awesome to be a part of that culture that can continue producing high-level basketball players.”