Kevin Durant tried to sell Paul George on the Oklahoma City Thunder

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21: Kevin Durant and Paul George
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21: Kevin Durant and Paul George /

Kevin Durant, the former Oklahoma City Thunder MVP, has reached out to new-Thunder Paul George to promote that organization to him.

Kevin Durant’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder left the region in ruins. Once upon a time, Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden were three wins away from winning a championship shortly after moving to OKC. Just a little over a month earlier, Durant had his team 48 minutes away from returning to the Finals since that inspiring loss to the Miami Heat.

When he left the Thunder, it was devastating. The fans there felt like he betrayed them. He destroyed their championship hopes and, even worse, he joined a team that already had a championship core in place.

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Over the 2016-17 regular season, the Warriors and Thunder rivalry was purely based on emotion. It wasn’t competitive as it had been in years past. It was an angry and hurt platoon led by the intense eventual-MVP Russell Westbrook getting repeatedly stomped by the two-time MVP Stephen Curry and the eventual-Finals MVP Kevin Durant.

Durant and the Warriors would go on to win the title, the first of his career. In his first year with Golden State, he did what he couldn’t do in nearly a decade with the Thunder. Though Westbrook won the MVP after an incredible season, it still didn’t completely ease the pain. It couldn’t.

The Thunder shocked everyone when they went out and made a move to add Paul George. The star swingman made it very clear to the Indiana Pacers that he had no intention of staying there after his contract was up following the 2017-18 season. He had been dangled in trade talks for weeks and Sam Presti bested Danny Ainge, Rob Pelinka, and the General Manager that doesn’t exist in Cleveland.

Still, the rumors of George leaving for the Los Angeles Lakers next summer persisted. Despite being teamed up with one of the best players in the game in Westbrook, the talk was that he’d still bolt for his hometown team. But that might not be true.

Reports have come out that George’s Lakers dreams are being “overstated.” Sports Illustrated‘s Lee Jenkins wrote a story that opened up the possibility that George might stay in Oklahoma City. He got a pretty strong sales pitch from someone who isn’t even in the organization anymore: Kevin Durant

Per Jenkins:

"“KD was like, ‘That place will blow you away,’” George says. “He told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and the meals.’ He was pretty high on them. He thought it was a first-class organization in every way.”"

For the last year, Durant has been bombarded with insults primarily from his former fan base. The group that once chanted MVP for him hurled nasty remarks in his direction. Even his former teammates like Enes Kanter continued to throw shade at Durant, long after the decision had been made.

Durant has no reason to help the Thunder at all. He gave them everything he had. Additionally, he was a valuable member of that community, giving his time and resources into helping improve the city that employed him. He formed a genuine bond there.

When he left, they turned their back on him harder than he did. His name was dragged through the mud for wanting to leave the organization that tried to replace James Harden with Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher to play with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. There was a sense that Durant despised the Thunder the way they disliked him.

It’s clearly not true. He stated over and over again that it had nothing to do with them. Even when some of the signs pointed to Westbrook being the reason that he left for Curry and co., he wouldn’t admit it.

Now Durant is selling George on OKC. He’s giving them the (second) highest praise a player can give. He’s endorsing that organization to a fellow star despite the fact that that new-look team could potentially clash with his in the future.

No one knows what George will do, probably not even himself. The Thunder will use the next year to try to sell him (and Westbrook) on building something great in Oklahoma City. While Durant won’t be returning anytime soon, he is lending a helping hand in their recruitment pitch.

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While it doesn’t seem like getting advice to go to a place from a person to left that same place is great, it’s hard to imagine that Durant’s words aren’t genuine. It also, unintentionally, re-opens the discussion for why he left the Thunder.

Let’s hope George does stay in OKC and they can add another strong piece. At its peak, the Warriors and the Thunder had an amazing rivalry. With MVPs on both sides, electric fan bases behind them, and a unique history, re-kindling the rivalry would be extremely fun.