As part of the ad campaign for Jordan Brand's new CP3 VI shoe I've been asked to write a series of posts on Chris Paul. This is an assignment I am happy to do.
We've already examined Chris Paul's basketball IQ in this series. The second unique attribute of Paul as an NBA player is his competitiveness. All athletes are competitive, but there are a select few who stand out as particularly so. Michael Jordan was one of the greatest NBA players of all time in part because he was incredibly talented -- but he also had a competitive drive that pushed him to be the best, a compulsion that showed up whether he was playing basketball or golf or poker. The guy had to win.
Paul is another such player. Undersized for a big time basketball and not blessed with elite athleticism, Paul nonetheless has turned himself into one of the best players on the planet. He has continually pushed himself to get better because of his insatiable desire to compete.
The NBA is a star's league. Of the last 22 NBA Champions, 21 of them have prominently featured an NBA MVP on their roster. An amazing number of games every season come down to a possession or two at the end of the game, when defenses are focused and ready and the pressure is immense. For most of the team's history the Clippers have lacked a player to turn to in those situations.
Once Paul joined the team, those issues became a thing of the past. There's absolutely no question who will have the ball for the Clippers with the game on the line. Paul's unparalleled competitiveness instills him with the confidence to thrive in those situations. He wants to win, he expects to win, and he's going to take personal responsibility for winning.
Time after time last season, with the game hanging in the balance, the Clippers went to Paul.
Against Oklahoma City...
... just to name a few. He even made the free throws that completed the Clippers historic come-from-behind victory in Memphis in Game 1 of the playoffs.
At the press conference when Paul first joined the Clippers, he offered this description of himself:
"I don't just want to win; I need to win."
That relentless competitive spirit is certainly one of the things that makes him a unique NBA talent.