This is part two of my behind-the-scenes oral history of the epic Paul George/Kawhi Leonard saga that saw both stars wind up on the Los Angeles Clippers, defying the expectations of the entire NBA cognoscenti. Contribute to true journalistic excellence by donating to my Patreon: ttps://www.patreon.com/downtobuck
KAWHI LEONARD: Steve called me later that same day and said he had a deal in place for Paul. I said, “Then I’ve made my decision. I’m coming to LA.” Again, I forgot to specify the LA team I was going to. It wasn’t until Steve started begging and crying that I clarified.
STEVE BALLMER: I don’t keep up with all that salary stuff, so when Kawhi said “LA” on the phone, I assumed that he was going to the Lakers like had been rumored, even though we had already committed to trading for Paul. The inferiority complex is hard to kick. I scream “Lakers suck and we have Jerry West” to my reflection in the mirror for thirty minutes every morning and I still feel inferior sometimes.
KAWHI LEONARD: Steve gets emotional really quickly. I wonder what it’s like to have so little control over your emotions.
PAUL GEORGE: The Clippers worked out the timing so that me and Kawhi got acquired at the same time. That way, when Woj dropped his Wojbomb, it would be like a Wojnuke devastating Wojhiroshima and giving everybody Wojradiation sickness.
JERRY WEST: No lie, it was pretty sweet to watch the Twitterverse blow up when they found out that Paul and Kawhi were coming to the “other” LA team. Me and Steve were literally reading tweets to each other out loud while laughing and smoking cigars. Laker fans, I love ’em, but they’re really a bunch of idiots.
PAUL GEORGE: Right after I got traded, I logged into Twitter to try to change my pic to the Clippers’ logo or something, but my phone, like, glitched out and I ended up with a pic of my dong as my Twitter profile pic for five hours.
KAWHI LEONARD: Dennis told me that Twitter was having a field day, but I don’t use Twitter so I didn’t really care. I’ve seen how that place can get players in trouble.
PAUL GEORGE: I played it off by saying that it wasn’t my dong in the picture. It was just a picture of my cat after he got fur cancer and had to get all his hair shaved off. I didn’t get banned, so I guess somebody believed my story.
GHOST OF CARMELO ANTHONY (Ex-NBA Player): Ay P, they said I gotta come off the bench!
MONTREZL HARRELL (Los Angeles Clippers Center): When I got the notifications on my phone that Kawhi and Paul were coming to the Clippers, it was like eleven at night. Instead of going to sleep, I spent all night antagonizing bitchass Laker fans on Twitter. Well, first I made sure I didn’t get traded to the Thunder.
LEBRON JAMES (Los Angeles Lakers Forward): The mood in the Lakers organization after those two guys went to the Clippers, man, it was like, this city’s never experienced anything like this before. To cope with it, I wasted a bunch of time trying to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday”.
ROB PELINKA (Los Angeles Lakers GM): I don’t know how we’re ever going to win a championship again when we’re getting outmaneuvered by the Clippers at every turn. Maybe we’re the ones who should relocate to Seattle. True misery is paying LeBron’s corpse forty million dollars while your cross-town rivals three-peat and hold parades right by your office.
LEBRON JAMES: I love article-based journalism because nobody can see my hairline if they’re just reading words on a page.
PAUL GEORGE: Kawhi and I thought about doing this thing where we rappel out of a helicopter to the top of the Staples Center and then do muscle poses. That would be like our introduction to LA. Actually, it was just my idea. Kawhi wasn’t up for it. Also, my agent told me that it would breach the terms of my contract.
AARON MINTZ (Paul George’s Agent): Paul had this idea for this grand theatrical entrance with helicopters and a laser light show and all this other garbage. First off, remember when the Heat formed their big three and held that press conference party thing with pyrotechnics and Chris Bosh screaming and “Not one, not two, not three…”? Yeah, that was embarrassing. Second, Paul has no idea how to rappel out of a helicopter. He’d probably die.
KAWHI LEONARD: With Paul and me and the rest of the Clippers’ core, I feel like we’re the favorites right now to win it all.
LANDRY SHAMET (Los Angeles Clippers guard): I simmed it five thousand times in 2K, and, yeah, we’re the favorites. I was finals MVP in like fifty of those simulations. Ever since they gave it in real life to [Andre] Iguodala that one time, the award lost all meaning, so they might as well give it to me.
STEVE BALLMER: If we win a championship, I hope the guys will let me hold the trophy. Do you think they’ll let me hold the trophy?
PAUL GEORGE: The goal is to win a championship. But if it doesn’t work out, I can just force my way to the Lakers and win one there.