Fans — and too often, we in the media — tend to treat player movement like fantasy basketball. We only think about what it means on the court, we grade the trade as a basketball move only and how it impacts a team’s salary cap.
We ignore the human side: Families having to pick up and move in an instant, children changing schools, lives interrupted.
Paul George talked with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN about the human side of his decision to force a trade to the Clippers. Yes, there is a basketball side, but there was also a very personal side.
“[People] think it was a basketball move,” George says. “And for a lot of reasons, it was a basketball move. But that’s not where it comes from.
“It was a lot deeper than me coming here for basketball reasons.”
George talked about being closer to his mother, who lives in Southern California, and has worked to recover from a stroke she had when George was just 6. Despite the challenges, she went to every one of his high school and most of his college games in Fresno, but that became difficult when he was drafted into the NBA and played in Indianapolis and then Oklahoma City.
“My mom doesn’t complain,” George says. “But having conversations with her, it’s hard for her to get on planes and travel.
“For me to be able to come to her and make it a lot easier for the travel on her and my dad, that was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to come back and play at home.”
Take the time to read the entire story, it’s worth it.
If the Clippers had still been Donald Sterling bad, this would have been a different story for George, he didn’t come home just to be home. The basketball matters. George wants to win and knew teaming up with Kawhi Leonard would get him close to a ring (if not all the way there).
But think about the big decisions in your life, it’s almost never just one factor that goes into the decision, it’s a thousand different things coming together. That’s how it is for NBA free agents, too. George had motivation to go home. As did Leonard.
This makes it less likely they bolt the Clippers in the summer of 2021, but that’s a basketball discussion to be discussed another time.