“I hate to be by myself, I hate to be by myself…”
So says the NBA’s premiere floor general, the Clippers’ Chris Paul. In an interview with GQ’s Steve Marsh, Paul gives fans a snippet of what it might be like in the mind of the Clips’ conductor. In that alone, his distaste for being left by himself, and that he “loves people”, points to a dimension of Paul that we’re not entirely used to.
Sports Illustrated put out a survey that listed the NBA’s dirtiest players, taken by fellow ball-players. The results were interesting. In the top 5, there were 2 Clippers. Reggie Evans was voted the #1 dirtiest player. #5 was Chris Paul. Too low.
Paul shines in a statistic at which PG’s are expected to excel: steals per game. Last year, Chris Paul averaged 2.53 spg over the 66 game regular season (2.4 for his career). Watch this guy play, and you’ll see that he’s not just one of the smartest players in basketball, he’s the league’s dirtiest ball-player.
Paul uses subtle tricks (an elbow here, a push there) to get the separation he needs to be effective. Spearheading defensive efforts, Paul will give his opponent hell. He’ll pull, push, trip, slap, just short of throwing the kitchen sink to stop a guy. Paul’s a hound, picking guys up as far out as the other base line, at the very least making them reconsider this whole “being a point guard” thing.
If Paul says he doesn’t like being by himself, I believe it. Nothing we know about him suggests otherwise. He’s the vocal leader on his team, at all times, getting in everyone’s face. When he’s not pushing his teammates, he’s working the nerves of anyone brave enough to dribble a ball in front of him.Whether he’s circled by his fellow Clips or chest to chest with a disgruntled opponent, Paul is never alone.
Paul’s defensive value is immeasurably high. On most teams, he is the best defensive player on the floor. In fact, we’re talking about the league’s best defensive player not named Dwight Howard.
Lest we forget, Paul can get a bit…shall we say…demonstrative?
Chris Paul’s position among the NBA’s elite play-makers is unquestioned. It’s how he’s gotten there that’s so interesting. Dirty play or not, Paul owes his point guard prowess to tunnel vision:
Then CP3 says something I’ve never heard any man, let alone a basketball player, say before: “I’ve been fortunate to be short my entire life.” I look puzzled, and he explains. “There’s only one position I’ve ever had to play, and that’s point guard. So I’ve always had to be that leader. And that was my job: you know, to talk.”
Many of us would agree that Chris Paul is the NBA’s most prolific back-court play-maker and that his basketball IQ is probably unmatched. You’d think he’s as good as he is because his mind processes multiple things at a genius pace. You’d expect the conductor to explain his brilliance through a meticulous process that most of us couldn’t replicate.
Paul has the kind of vision that helped Stevie Wonder see his piano. That same sort of vision was from a considerably lowered vantage point (Paul is 6 ft tall on a good day), but propels his giant teammates.
I could sit here and slam poetic for days. Alas, Paul himself will always break his success down to: I’m good at this because it’s all I know.
Here’s another great tidbit, another reason why the Clippers’ leader is ruler of all things sneaky. Paul apparently hates talking trash:
“I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get good…I’m expected to score on you.”
All hail the king (of subtlety).
H/T to a great interview by Steven Marsh.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim