OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — It would start out as a two-man fishing trip, young Paul George and his dad bound for a lake in Southern California.
But as word spread that the Georges — Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. — were headed out with poles in hand, attendance would grow. Fishing was new, but it grew on the neighborhood kids.
"Every time I would mention that we're going fishing, it started out with us two and it ended up being about seven or eight of us," George said Monday at the CHK Central Boathouse. "So, they definitely enjoyed it as much as we did."
George has been converting friends into fishing fans since youth. Now at age 27, the Thunder forward is casting a wider net.
He recently announced the launch of his foundation's outdoor initiative in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The Paul George Foundation is sponsoring the OK Fishing In the Schools program for 13 Oklahoma City School District schools, The Oklahoman reported. It'll provide a Paul George Foundation T-shirt to 1,300 fourth graders who are part of George's "outdoor team."
About 45 students from Stanley Hupfeld Academy at Western Village were in the Boathouse District for the launch. They learned to cast, took a pontoon boat ride with George and heard the four-time NBA All-Star detail a longtime love of fishing.
If you were angling for hints about George's future, there was some bait to take. In his speech announcing the initiative, he said "Oklahoma's home for me, so it's fun to start this journey."
Later, George — who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent after the season — gave another hint that maybe the Thunder has a chance to reel him in.
George said he hasn't had the chance to fish as much as he'd like in Oklahoma City, but "hopefully, there's a summer for that here that I can do that."
Mostly, though, the afternoon was about pitching fishing.
George stressed the importance of kids getting outside in an age when youth is dominated by "video games and technology."
And he practices what he preaches, saying he and his father are teaching fishing to his 3-year-old daughter, Olivia, in what he called "a bonding moment."
"Honestly, I didn't think my daughter would be into fishing, but we took her out there, we threw her pole out there, and she absolutely loved it," George said. "She didn't catch nothing, but just keeping her busy reeling the line was fun to her. Her fishing pole lights up, so it was like a big ordeal."
Former Thunder guard Semaj Christon will play for Team USA's World Cup qualifying team, The New York Times reported on Monday via Twitter.
The team began playing on Nov. 23 against Puerto Rico in Orlando, Florida. It's the first of six first-round qualifying games that will take place in three competition windows through July 2018. There are three second-round qualifying windows in 2018-19. The 2019 World Cup takes place in China.
Jeff Van Gundy will coach the qualifying team, which will be made up primarily of G League players. The Blue's Markel Brown also will be on the roster, according the report by Marc Stein.
The Thunder waived Christon just before the start of the season. The free-agent guard has been living in Oklahoma City.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com
An AP Member Exchange shared by The Oklahoman.