It was the best of times it was the worst of times. A year and a half ago LeBron James made the decision to take his talents to South Beach in pursuit of a championship ring. For Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the citizens of Miami it was a moment of celebration and at that moment the rest of the league found their public enemy number one.
When comparing the free agency of James to the trade that led Chris Paul to the Clippers you see a distinct difference in the attitudes of both players. To start, LeBron in his press conference said the following:
I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular seasons or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championship.
Dissecting this quote will reveal to you a few of James glaring character flaws.
James throws a veiled insult at his former team the Cavs. When he says, "and not only just win in the regular seasons or just to win five games…" he is clearly taking a jab at his former team. In contrast, Chris Paul opens up his press conference by thanking his former team, the Hornets, and thanking the city of New Orleans for their support. Prior to the interview Paul tweeted the following:
THANK YOU NEW ORLEANS for 6 of the BEST years of my life...to the organization, my teammates, coaches, and the fans you will always be my family and have a special place in my heart!!!
If I were a Hornets fan, I could be moved to tears.
LeBron James is all about making himself better. The self-proclaimed King constantly refers to his wants and his desires. I want to be able to win a championship. I will be taking my talents to South Beach. I feel like… I want… me… me… me…
Chris Paul when interviewed his first time as a Clipper approaches the situation completely differently. Paul elegantly defers praise to the franchise and his future teammates. A growing area of concern in the media was how Paul and Billups could coexist considering they play the same position. Paul, perhaps already aware of the conflict, humbly diffuses the situation by letting the media know that Billups was an older brother to him. Now that is some major class.
Often players talk about wanting to bring a championship to a city. Kobe wants to bring another championship to LA, Dirk wants to bring a championship to Dallas, Duncan to San Antonio. LeBron wants a championship for himself. For the King, this is his destiny.
Paul’s mission is not only to get himself a ring, but to bring the Clippers, a frontrunner for worst sports franchise in history, a title. Paul talks about being competitive and making his teammates better. He is driven and he will work hard to meet his goal.
How much success Paul will have with the Clippers and whether James gets his championship ring rests with the fates; however, one thing is for certain, Paul will garner the respect and praise of a lot more fans than James will. Whereas James and the Heat became the villains of the NBA, Paul and the Clippers look to be the Cinderella story of this season. If the basketball gods are listening, there would be nothing more fitting that having these two teams face off next June.