Chris Paul didn’t exactly leave the Clippers on the best terms. Lob City had worn out its welcome in Los Angeles, the team was fracturing from within, and it was time for Paul to move on. His first game back against the Clippers showed that both parties still had some emotions to work through.
Three years have passed since Paul went to the Rockets, and the time apart has given the point guard a clearer perspective on what it meant to be a part of this franchise. On the “Knuckleheads” podcast with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson, Paul talked about how he now has a more positive outlook on his time with the Clippers:
“I didn’t appreciate it enough probably until I left, dead serious, I can admit that.”
Paul reflected on the experience of playing with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who famously had their squabbles, and the relationship between Paul and Griffin was especially scrutinized. In the aftermath, however, it’s easier for Paul to acknowledge what playing with the two of them did for him:
“Man it was crazy playing with Blake and DJ... cuz everybody always talked about how I made them better, but they made me better. Some of them passes I threw probably should have been turnovers... all you had to do was keep it in the arena and one of them would get it.”
There were times when Paul was so wrapped up in the heat of the game that he couldn’t appreciate the theatrics of Griffin and Jordan’s dunks. He would have to text them afterwards when he watched the replays to congratulate them.
Even though he no longer plays for the Clippers, Paul still carries the team with him. He finds himself repeating Doc-isms, like “get rid of the clutter”, to his younger Thunder teammates. And he still feels linked to the franchise, especially everyone who came before him, like Miles and Richardson.
Paul: “Even though we never really talk like that, we’ve all been connected through all that and so whenever the Clippers do win a championship, like, y’all are a big part of that. Y’all, [Baron Davis], Corey Maggette, Ralph Lawler, who I love to death, man. I love Ralph. Oh me oh my. Lawler’s law And I’ll tell y’all this man, is that when I got to the Clippers, every time we went to an arena or something like that, Ralph would always walk up to me and be like, ‘This is the scenario, CP.’”
Richardson: “He’s a walking stat, He’s a walking stat.”
Paul: “And to tell you man, that used to drive me. That used to drive me all the time, and I’m so grateful for all them.”
He may not have delivered a title to Los Angeles, but Paul has a great deal of pride for how he helped changed the perception of the Clippers in the community. Miles and Richardson said they were mad when they got drafted by the team because both of them had avoided working out for the Clippers. Paul said his wife tried to buy Clippers gear at Fox Hills mall when he was traded, and she couldn’t find any.
Now, the Clippers are a premier franchise, and they have a presence in L.A., even if they don’t dominate the market. Being a part of that transformation and spending some of his formative years with this team still means something to Paul, even if it took him a few years to move past his messy departure.
One day, Chris Paul’s jersey will be retired by the Clippers. Hopefully, the player and the organization are on good terms for that moment.
On to the links...
- The NBA restart is imminent, but the coronavirus continues to spread in Florida and throughout the country. Adam Silver said Tuesday that the unpredictability of the virus means the league is “never full steam ahead no matter what”.
- Naturally, individuals around the league are uncertain about heading to Orlando in this situation. Marv Albert has announced that he will not be on site and will not call games during the restart.
- An earlier plan to place social justice messages on the backs of players’ jerseys has been modified. Names of the victims of police brutality will reportedly not be used out of sensitivity for the families.
- Louis Keene with the latest update on the Inglewood arena project, which promises to be net zero-emissions.
- ESPN analyzed the star potential of the top NBA sophomores. Alas, Landry Shamet did not make the cut, but a former Clipper draft pick did.
- One more note to file away for a potential Clippers/Lakers playoff showdown: apparently, LeBron James does not return Joakim Noah’s calls.