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[Iko] An ode to Chris Paul

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by mikol13, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. mikol13

    mikol13 Protector of the Realm
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    HOUSTON — “Now y’all better start out at 300! I know y’all better than that!”

    It’s late March, which can only mean two things in the basketball world: The regular season is coming to a close, and the playoffs are less than a fortnight away. Soon, Chris Paul will embark upon yet another playoff grind, desperate for the one thing that’s eluded him throughout his esteemed career — an NBA title. But Paul isn’t sweating in the weight room or getting up shots on the practice court or breaking down Western Conference opponents in the film room. On this night, Paul is tucked away in an underground room of a swanky downtown hotel, surrounded by Houston’s 1 percent.

    He is part of a private auction event hosted by teammate Clint Capela in honor of his new charity foundation, CC15. Capela asked Paul to emcee and lead the event, much in the same manner as he has set up his team in the half-court for two years. Paul is known for his fiery attitude on either end of the hardwood floor, but here, he’ll have to use his charm, his swagger and his candor. It’s a different type of opponent.
     
  2. mikol13

    mikol13 Protector of the Realm
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    Just outside the room, an adjacent connecting hallway is adorned with Houston sports memorabilia, some of which even the staunchest of collectors would have a hard time finding. Most of it is kept safe and secure in glass containers, but a few jerseys and photos are within arm’s reach.

    It’s a bit of a two-part celebration: The Houston Cougars are about an hour away from tipoff against Kentucky in the Sweet 16 and the city’s finest wants to show its support.

    Paul had just sold his Woodlands-area mansion — a marvelous 18,000-square foot, nine-bedroom estate — earlier in the day, so he was fully aware of the wealth present before him and eager to get the bidding started. “I know what they’re going for,” Paul joked.

    He was soon joined on stage by teammates James Harden and Austin Rivers, both wearing bright smiles as they crossed the stage. Rockets personality and in-arena host Matt Thomas got the crowd riled up by speaking of hopes of a deep playoff run and a championship, and the three guards looked at one another and nodded in agreement.

    The first item was a signed Capela jersey, and the bidding started at $1,200. The auctioneer took the baton from Paul, using experience and wits to get the bidding to go up and up as the crowd cheered on.

    “He got a Tad Brown jacket on!” Paul joked to an elderly man as he placed a bid. He then praised a woman as the auction continued, yelling, “$2,500? You go, girl!”

    The final price was $3,000 from a woman toward the back. She received two jerseys along with a signed photo and couldn’t seem to stop grinning. Harden’s jersey was the next to be auctioned, starting out at $400 and also working its way up to $3,000 before it was won by a different woman.

    “MVP! MVP!” Paul chanted as Harden walked over to congratulate the winners.
     
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  3. mikol13

    mikol13 Protector of the Realm
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    “Chris, during your time with the Lakers …”

    I immediately realized the grave mistake I had made. Here I was, in my first player press conference, eager to make a first impression, and I dropped the ball. I swear I was thinking of the Clippers the whole time.

    Paul easily could have made a mockery out of me, and I would have fully deserved it. How was he supposed to know I wasn’t trying to get a rise out of him?

    He didn’t, and instead, he turned it into a joke. “The who? Man, I was only with them for an hour or two,” Paul replied. He was, of course, referencing the time he was traded to the Lakers in 2011, a deal nixed by then-commissioner David Stern. Instantly, the entire room burst into laughter, and any initial awkwardness from the presser was gone. Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey, seated on either side of Paul, joined in on the fun.

    Paul spoke highly of Capela and the potential the two could have, citing his time spent with DeAndre Jordan in L.A. He spoke of Harden, calling him “a special player.” Above anything, up there on the podium, Paul looked relieved. His free agency had been quite the journey, a documented experience involving his family, his representatives and even a cameo by Jay-Z.
     
  4. mikol13

    mikol13 Protector of the Realm
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    When Houston traded for Paul two summers ago, he arrived with numerous questions, some obviously more valid than others: How will he and Harden co-exist? Will Paul be able to be a co-star? Will Harden? Is basketball now being played with two balls?

    What couldn’t be questioned, however, was the excitement that was rampant throughout the city. His introductory press conference was turned into a celebration dubbed “CP3 Day.” Thousands of fans lined up outside Toyota Center waiting to get their first taste of superstardom. On the video screen, a montage of Paul’s and Harden’s signature moments flashed, with the theme of partnership prevailing. The Rockets finally had someone worthy of sharing the backcourt with Harden.

    For six years, Houston had tried — and failed — to place a sufficient star next to their beloved bearded fellow. Previous calls for playmaking helped land talents such as Ty Lawson and Jason Terry — fine players in their own right, but certainly not Harden’s caliber nor the ones to surround him with during his best years.

    With Paul, the Rockets had a legit one-two punch. D’Antoni laid out his plan for staggering the two, making sure that an All-NBA guard controlled Houston’s offense for 48 minutes every night. Morey already had an elite isolation player in Harden, but he realized the potential for Paul to have a similar effect. Paul realized it as well, and together, they were the best one-on-one players in the league.

    Of course, teaming Paul and Harden was a success, but the real fruits of labor were harvested when Paul ran with the second unit. It was an effective tool Houston had for turning 3-point leads into 13, or erasing double-digit deficits. The 32-year old looked anything but his age during those times, whizzing his way up the court and weaving in the lane, throwing effortless no-look dimes for any shooter with a pulse.
     
  5. mikol13

    mikol13 Protector of the Realm
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    Remember Paul for the Portland win — the culmination of just how successful the backcourt could be. Remember him for the comeback win over those pesky Pelicans. Remember him for the second round — oh, that second round. He refused to let anyone or anything stand in his way of the Western Conference Finals and turned in a Game 5 for the ages: 41 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists. Even Harden had to follow orders, standing off to the side and letting Paul have the one dance he wanted so badly.

    Off the court, he was just as exhilarating. Paul and I often spoke, most times not even about basketball-related topics. Between he and his brother, C.J., there was a world of wisdom handed my way: life as an African-American, the troubles we face daily, the struggle of a young man of color trying to make his way in the media and more. Paul was always there to lend a helping hand or an ear.

    Paul was the best player on the floor for large stretches of time in that Western Conference Finals series against Golden State. Remember the score and subsequent shimmy on Stephen Curry, who could only help but smile going up against his old friend? When Paul came down with the hamstring injury in the waning moments of Game 5, there was an enormous shock felt within the organization and the city. It seemed as if people were waiting on any word from a doctor or credible source, seeing if Paul would be able to give it a go in Games 6 or 7. I remember seeing him walk down to the practice court, his limp still there but still putting on a brave face for his teammates.
     
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  6. mikol13

    mikol13 Protector of the Realm
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    For the two years he was with the Rockets, if anyone asked Paul what it was all about, they’d get the same answer from him every time: Winning.

    He was determined to put his injury-riddled days behind him. After recovering from another hamstring injury this past season, Paul worked extensively with trainer Eric Lang on leg-specific exercises, reworking his previous regiment. He changed his diet. He worked with medicine balls, alternating between shoulders. He’d whip out Army drills like “turn and lunge” and improved his core balance by kneeling on balls.

    Paul never knew how to turn off his competitive spirit. Kenneth Faried caught wind of that during some downtime in Utah during the 2019 playoffs. Faried was off in one corner shooting 3s and hitting a respectable amount of them. This had gone on for about two minutes before Paul noticed. He walked over to Faried and challenged him to a friendly bet — $100 said he’d miss the next shot. Faried glady accepted and took the shot but missed. Paul noticed the slightly annoyed look on Faried’s face and gave him the opportunity to win his money back. “Double or nothing,” he joked. Faried took another shot, this time swishing the ball through the net, getting his money back.

    He’d never let someone rest, either. Iman Shumpert was going through his shooting drills at quite a rapid pace. At this point, he was in a rhythm, the kind of which NBA players can shoot endlessly without a miss. Paul can detect double teams before they happen and find angles out of nowhere — of course he would see what Shumpert was up to. He waited until Shumpert’s shot was halfway in the air, and chunked another basketball at it, knocking it out of its orbit. “Uh, uh!” he shouted.

    Chris Paul provides a Thanksgiving meal for families impacted by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (Bill Baptist / Getty Images)
    Paul then brought Shumpert in for a mini-teaching moment. In typical Paul fashion, he told Shumpert that in no way could he guard him. He also explained how when the game is on the line, he doesn’t want 3s. He prefers to take it inside with his patented midrange jumper. It’s how he vanquished the Spurs in the 2015 playoffs, and how he’s won a plethora of games in his career. That’s always what he’ll rely on, so maybe that’s why he and Houston parted ways. At the end of the day, they were just two different ideologies.
     
  7. mikol13

    mikol13 Protector of the Realm
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    Harden and Paul didn’t get past Golden State, but in the last five years, not many teams did. Yes, the two argued. They’re alpha dogs. And Paul wants to win more than anything in the world. When people want something so badly, there will be disagreements. There will be tension. It’s not an indictment on anyone. Sometimes, that’s just what life is about.

    In any case, remember Paul for the good he did in the community. Remember him for Hurricane Harvey, and his tireless efforts to bring food, water, money and hope back to a city that needed it in the worst way. Remember him for his work in the communities even long after the storms, going into the depths of the city to teach and improve life for underprivileged folks — not just giving them money or food, but teaching them how to get better, to make lives for themselves and their children.

    Paul is still a damn good point guard. He’s an even better human being, and Oklahoma City has acquired both.
     
  8. RocketsFido

    RocketsFido Member

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    "CP3 just wanted to win and help others along the way..." by shackling our entire franchise with that god-awful contract?

    An aging 34 yo with a history of nagging injuries should know better
     
  9. Joshfast

    Joshfast "We're all gonna die" - Billy Sole
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    I'll remember him for wanting a super duper extreme **** all max contract before all including the team and winning.
     
  10. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    "It’s how he vanquished the Spurs in the 2015 playoffs, and how he’s won a plethora of games in his career. That’s always what he’ll rely on, so maybe that’s why he and Houston parted ways. At the end of the day, they were just two different ideologies."

    oh boy. CF"s: mix and up and shoot midrange. its too predictable. but wait cp3 wants more of this? who cares
     
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  11. T for 3

    T for 3 Member

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  12. backwardhead

    backwardhead Member

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    There once was a guard from Wake Forest
    Who contract was f'ing ginormous
    He pulled up to shoot
    Out came some poop
    So a trade was made that was thunderous
     
  13. HP3

    HP3 Member

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    Wow.., you guys are unbelievably sad people. Not only do you not respect what hes done for the team and community, you also talk about someone else's money like you pay his salary AND talk about it like we werent capped out anyways.
     
    #13 HP3, Jul 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  14. HP3

    HP3 Member

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    He's gone from the team man but you guys still like clowns. Sheesh, I should expect the same treatment for Harden.
     
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  15. Juxtaposed Jolt

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    I'm sure you'll use this same logic in any contract negotiations involving yourself. :rolleyes:

    Let's not pretend like you wouldn't do the exact same thing, in CP3's position.
     
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  16. chenjy9

    chenjy9 Numbers Don't Lie
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    You guys are losers
     
  17. T for 3

    T for 3 Member

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    what was that about an Inevitable Fluff Article?
     
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  18. hakeem94

    hakeem94 Member

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    Kevin Durant wouldnt
     
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  19. PlayBall

    PlayBall Member

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    True. Durant also knew it wouldn't be his last big paycheck. CP3 likely knew it would be his, so harder to leave money on the table.
     
    Lawlruschang likes this.
  20. ipaman

    ipaman Contributing Member

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    CP3 spending those millions paying off writers?
     
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