4. CHRIS PAUL
After going through The Decision, ‘Melo-Drama, and the ongoing after-effects of The Indecision, Chris Paul’s exit from The Big Easy to Lob City remains the lone standard of how a superstar can exercise his right to play elsewhere in a professional and respectful fashion.
Whether it’s LeBron, ’Melo, or Dwight, their collective inability to handle their respective situations appropriately demonstrated an absent sense of real leadership and ownership (All of them are still struggling with these missing traits as this season has progressed.) Despite all the money and power they have inherited — rightfully or not — they do not seem as ideal prospective owners after retirement as much as CP3 does.
When the media swarmed Paul to find out the inevitable, he steadfastly kept the same stance and maintained whatever conversations he had private.
“I don’t think about it, to tell you the truth. I’m just ready to get out here and compete and hoop. This is what I do. I love it. I have a very tight circle and they know this whole lockout thing’s been driving me nuts, so I’m just happy to get out on the court and compete,” said CP during training camp this season as a Hornet.
CP was committed to his previous squad through thick and thin. He understood the dynamics of the team would be in flux without an owner in place, leading to personnel losses like David West. He let the people behind-the-scenes do their jobs throughout the process rather than placing himself at the center of the unnecessary hoopla. As a player, Paul knew what he could control then and didn’t waver to express his dedication to the Hornets.
“Right now my position is to win a championship right here in New Orleans,” said CP at the time.
Paul’s foresight as a point guard surely played a role on how he handled his situation. This same foresight is what will make him a great owner one day. As much as he would’ve liked to remain a Hornet for life, it wasn’t his fault that David Stern is calling the shots there with a vacant ownership. That alone provided too much uncertainty for him to sign long-term. Perhaps, though, the vision that is most impressive was him realizing the vast basketball upside he could have with Earthquake Blake and the Clippers, of all teams.
Free agents and marquee players routinely dissed the Clippers as a real opportunity because they had Donald Sterling and his bigoted and penny-pinching ways. There was no way LeBron was ever going to seriously consider the Clips during his summer 2010 courtship as long as Sterling was around. Yet Paul saw past what most people believe is the worst owner in sports. Now this foresight and audacity has placed the Clippers as a virtual lock to play in, and possibly host, an opening round playoff series.
Back in N’awlins, however, Chris Paul won’t soon be forgotten. He is still dedicated to the elementary afterschool program he started with Chase Bank to donate $1 million in funding. Prior to his return game, CP made sure to pay this school a visit and the impressions he has left remain priceless.
“I think he truly had a genuine commitment to the people and fans of New Orleans. Although the business side of things can lead us in different directions, he was coming from his heart. When he repaved parks basketball parks and redid parks, when he invested in our program, his commitment was truly from his heart,” said the program’s director Korbin Johnson.
CP shared how he felt about coming back to play in the Big Easy with ESPN’s J.A. Adande: “I still love that city. I always will. It’s going to be crazy to be a different uniform, especially playing against them. I’m so emotionally attached to the city and that team.”
Paul is forever engrained in New Orleans like Lil Wayne’s The Carter II and is at the forefront of what’s next in LA like Kendrick Lamar’s upcoming album Good Kid in a Mad City. So Mike Jordan might want to fall back from owning, and give the keys to the Bobcats to CP3 soon.