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“You could say that about a lot of guys,” George said. “LeBron is the best player in our league, but some people have a hard time playing with him. One thing you can’t say about Russ is that he’s not ready or he’s not prepared. That’s him every night.”
The topic was brought up when Young noted “frustrations” some of Westbrook’s former teammates have privately expressed about his “stubbornness and single-minded approach.”
There have been numerous reported instances of star players not wanting to play with James.
Before the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in August 2017, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst reported the five-time All-Star wanted to “be more of a focal point” and didn’t want to keep playing next to James.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania said during a July appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd (h/t Sporting News’ Travis Durkee) that Kawhi Leonard, before he was traded to the Toronto Raptors, wasn’t “jumping for joy” at the thought of joining the Los Angeles Lakers after James signed with the team.
Per ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski (h/t CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin), Minnesota Timberwolves disgruntled star Jimmy Butler “had once imagined playing for the Lakers, but LeBron James’ arrival as the franchise’s cornerstone made it less appealing for Butler in the prime of his career.”
George was able to build a rapport with Westbrook and felt comfortable enough playing alongside the former NBA MVP to sign a four-year contract extension with the Thunder in July.
Despite reported resistance from some stars to playing with James, he’s still found a way to win three NBA titles and has made it to the Finals in each of the past eight seasons.