Chris Paul is either loved by many are hated by a lot. He is a talented player, but he has drawn some undeserved praise for some and not enough love from others. Together Mike Patton and Eddie McDonald share their thoughts on Chris Paul with a new segment called Two Sides Of The Coin. Up first is Mike with his view of Paul and his plight.
Hopes were high for the Los Angeles Clippers heading into this season. They had arguably the best point guard in the game and acquired one of the best coaches in the game, Doc Rivers, from the Boston Celtics. Couple these two with the presence of Blake Griffin down low and supersub Jamal Crawford off the bench and the Clippers had the makings of a very good team. Doc, Chris and the Clippers did excellent during the regular season as the finished with a franchise-record 57 wins and the third seed in the West. The way things set up, Paul had his best shot at achieving some postseason success. But like in the past, Paul’s team fell short. The Clippers lost in six games to the Oklahoma City Thunder and were sent home sooner than they expected. And with that, the pressure turned up on Paul again and the questions began to arise about his career.
When you think of elite point guards in the NBA, Paul’s name immediately comes to mind. He can score when needed, makes teammates better, has excellent court vision and is a bulldog on defense. But with all the great superlatives about him, he is missing the team accolades. Like some before him, he has had individual success in regards to All-Star team nominations, All-NBA selections and NBA All-Defense nominations, but he has never been to a conference final in his career. Part of that blame can fall on his career in New Orleans. While he played in that city, the best teammate he ever had was David West. Other than that, the team acquired players that either did not produce, were past their effective playing days or were limited. And as a result, the Hornets under Paul’s direction never went that far into the playoffs. But like what usually happens with a star player, the blame went directly to him. As his career went on, the noise from the pressure has become louder and louder. And as he has been with the Clippers and they have gotten better and better, the pressure has reached a high pitch. So, heading forward, how does he respond?
If anything, we all know that Chris Paul is a fighter. He continues to play hard (sometimes borderline dirty play) and will not give one inch on the court. But if he is to take the next step and conquer his playoff demons, he may want to look towards the failure turned triumph of his friend, LeBron James. The first year LeBron went to Miami, the expectations for the Heat were through the roof. People were actually throwing out the expectation that the Heat would set the record for most wins in a season and win the championship with ease. The Heat had a good regular season, but they were very hot and cold all season long as LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh learned how to play with each other. But as the postseason arrived, the Heat and their Big Three began to click and they rode that synergy all the way to the NBA Finals versus the Dallas Mavericks. Every Heat fan out there was thinking the Heat would do what they set out to do at the beginning of the year: win a championship. But unfortunately, the Miami Heat fell to the Mavericks in six games to lose the NBA Finals. And along with the loss, the prophecy that some had for the Heat was ruined because of LeBron not showing up when it counted. That criticism would haunt LeBron all summer long and would motivate him heading into the next season. LeBron and the Heat had similar regular season success the following year, but were faced with some serious adversity in the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Boston Celtics. The Heat went down 3 games to 2 and the pressure was as big as it was when the Heat faced the Mavs in the NBA Finals. Many looked for LeBron to crumble once again when faced with tremendous pressure. But instead of crumbling, LeBron rose to the occasion. James would carry the Miami Heat to a win in Boston in Game 6 with 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in Game 6 and then Miami went on to close the series at home in 7 games. And the Heat would ride that momentum to their first title since Wade and Shaq led them over Dallas in 2006. And ever since then, the pressure has been released from James and his career.
Going forward, Paul will be facing some serious pressure. And how he handles this pressure may be one of the defining moments of his career. But hopefully he will learn from his latest failure that started in Game 5 of the postseason:
If he is, in fact, the best point guard in the game, we should not expect anything less than a drive for a title coming soon from him. Or else we should seriously question whether or not he is the best point guard in the game to begin with.
Eddie, on the other hand, has even more to say about Chris Paul. And has some serious questions as well.
Should the superstardom of Chris Paul be questioned?
Many people consider Chris Paul to be the best point guard in the NBA. While he is very good, he also has his fair share of criticisms.
One of the key components to any athlete’s legacy is the number of championships they have won. Paul, who just finished his ninth NBA campaign, has a ton of hardware and accolades. However, he is missing one key thing: a championship. In fact, CP3 has had zero opportunities at a title. This is due in large part to him never getting out of the second round of the playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks (currently) is often criticized for not being able to win a ring of his own. People will talk about how great of a scorer he is, but give him a ton of criticism for never reaching an NBA Finals. Melo has had a hard time getting to the second round, much like Paul has had getting past the second round. Granted the two play two different positions on the floor, but each are considered superstars in the league. So if Anthony is always getting chastised and ridiculed, why isn’t Paul?
Many will argue that Paul has never had much of a supporting cast. While this is true for the most part, there’s more that meets the eye. When Chris Paul was a member of the then New Orleans Hornets, he didn’t have much of a supporting cast, but still had solid, quality teammates, including David West. He also had Tyson Chandler, granted not the same Tyson Chandler we all know today, but he was still a solid cast member. The comparisons have been made to LeBron James, as he was often ridiculed for his lack of postseason success with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before any of this conversation gets carried away, LeBron had absolutely no supporting cast. Granted his team won a lot of games, but never could get over the playoff hump, thus resulting in James taking his talents to South Beach.
Now Paul is in Los Angeles with the Clippers, although he should be a Laker, but that’s a thing of the past. The Clippers have the components to be a serious threat to an NBA title yearly, but the results haven’t been what was clamored for just yet. This year, the Clippers saw the development of big man Blake Griffin. Many want to say he still hasn’t found it yet, but a lot of people around the league will argue that. He was an MVP candidate this year with a somewhat realistic chance of winning it. LA also has DeAndre Jordan down low, who is coming into his own as an NBA shot blocker and rebounder. Veterans Matt Barnes and JJ Redick provide some outside shooting, something crucial due to the way Paul drives to the lane. The bench is solid with Jamal Crawford, who should really be a starter in the league because of his ability to go off for 25 plus on any given night. Speaking of the bench, one of the best coaches in the game of basketball today coaches from the Clippers bench. His name is Doc Rivers, who was acquired from the Boston Celtics this past offseason. The combination of Paul, Griffin, Jordan and Rivers should have been enough for at least a Western Conference Finals trip but it was not.
Now the Clippers did have a major distraction occurs when the Donald Sterling saga unfolded. The Clippers were obviously shell shocked and could have easily been bounced from the first round by the Golden State Warriors. However, when new Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from the NBA, the Clippers found new life, thus winning the series.
The Clippers ran into this season’s MVP in Kevin Durant, his sidekick Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers bowed out of the playoffs at the hands of the Thunder in six games. In the pivotal fifth game, Paul found himself making three boneheaded plays in the final seconds of the game. Two turnovers, and a foul on a tree point shot. This essentially was the turning point in that series. Paul gave himself the blame for that loss and rightfully so. So yet again, Paul and his team fail to advance past the second round. This puts his playoff record at 21-32, subpar for a “superstar.”
There aren’t many elite players in the NBA these days. LeBron is one. Durant is another. Kobe Bryant (when fully healthy) as well as Dwyane Wade(also when healthy) are superstars. Paul is not there. He easily could be. All the talk of him not having postseason success can be put to rest once he finally wins a championship. Until then, he is just another really good player in the league.
Two men with two similar but differing opinions. The different sides of the coin have been explored. But yet Chris Paul has to answer the bell as to what becomes reality of the legacy he leaves.
For more sports talk, you can follow Mike on Twitter @General_MP or follow Eddie on Twitter @KingEdward15. Stay tuned for more Two Sides Of The Coin folks and chime in on what your thoughts are on their opinions.