Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Curious Case of Christopher Paul

Everybody loves Chris Paul.  When it comes down to it, the man can do no wrong.  He is arguably the best Point Guard in the game today.  He is always ‘in the conversation’ when MVP talks heat up, especially after his torrid start to this season.  In the realm of fantasy basketball, he is a monster with his stat sheet stuffing style of play.  His beloved Chris/Cliff Paul State Farm commercials get more airplay than Flo, but not as much as the NBATV favorite for Remy Martin with Robin Thicke pretending to pursue his Wife.  CP3 is also considered the ultimate Leader who has amassed countless awards like Rookie of the Year, multiple All-Star nods (with one MVP), and All Defensive team recognition.

Paula Patton Robin Thicke
Things are getting interesting...
Quite the resume’ he is sporting there.  However something doesn’t seem quite right – something seems to be getting lost in the shuffle here.  The question needs to be asked:  How are players judged in the NBA?  It is by individual accomplishments?  To a certain extent, yes.  Winning awards like MVPs  will get you some shine, some dap if you will.  However something else reigns supreme over the individual awards that players earn, and that is winning.  Winning trumps all.  Winning defines a players’ legacy.  Winning is that indisputable piece that can upgrade a Superstar to a Legend.  There is no need to list the players over the years who have won because they are Legends, and Legends are known.

This is what is so flummoxing when it comes to the curious case Chris Paul.  CP3 hasn’t really won anything – nor has he even really come that close to winning The Chip.  In 2008, he got his pre-Pelican Hornets team to the second round of the Playoffs.  That’s it.  There is nothing else to say.  For some reason, the media and the loud-mouth pundits out there never mention this.  Not a single peep.  It honestly makes no sense considering what other players similar in stature have had to endure over the years, i.e. LeBron.

LeBron Cleveland
What gives, bruh?
Think back to Kevin Garnett when he was with the T-Wolves and those seven consecutive years he didn’t make it out of the first round.  Eventually in 2004 he made it to the Conference Finals but ran into the Lakers.  Ultimately, the whispers and cat-calls didn’t end until he got the monkey off his back and brought it home with the Celtics.  "Anything is possibuuuuuuullllllllllllllll!!!!"  Same deal with Carmelo Anthony.  He couldn’t get past the first round for all those years in Denver, until eventually making it, like Garnett, to the Conference Finals.  To this day, Melo still receives tons of criticism for not having advanced to the Finals at the time of this writing, but not a peep about Chris Paul.  Why is that?

As stated earlier, CP3 has won numerous awards for wide variety of things in the NBA, so clearly he is an elite player.  All anyone ever talks about is how great of a leader he is – that he is probably the best Leader the NBA has today, and yet, no criticism.  The argument that Melo gets the criticism because he is a gunner while Paul is an assist man is absurd.  Just because Paul gives up the rock more shouldn't give him a free pass because of his perceived selflessness.    You can’t make the argument that he had inferior teammates.  Most people would take Paul’s second round Hornets team, or any of his Clipper teams over the slop LeBron had when he took the Cavs to the Finals.

Great players are supposed to be the difference makers.  They are supposed to uplift their teammates and make them better.  Paul has had some better teams than his contemporaries, and done less than those who actually had less to work with.  He’s had David West and Peja in their primes on the Hornets along with a blossoming Tyson Chandler.  In Lob City, he’s had Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, and DeAndre Jordan.  Who did LeBron have on that Finals team with the Cavs?  Boobie Gibson?  A barely-mobile Big Z?  A still wet behind the ears Varejao?  Come on.  As Shaq would say, “That’s barbecue chicken.”

Shaq barbecued chicken
That's barbecue chicken, son!

Now don’t get it twisted, this is not a dump on Chris Paul.  If anything, this is just to act as a wake-up call to make things a little more even on the criticism playing field.  We all know the media plays favorites and has their ‘darlings’, but it just is hypocritical to belittle or demean most elite players for their failures, while others get off scott-free and remain the MVP on the All-Heralded Team while never having sniffed the Conference Finals.  Perhaps a little media backlash is just what CP3 needs to take it to that next level.  Hey, look what it did for LeBron…

Pete Certo is a Philadelphia native and Global Ambassador for Roundball Manor.  Follow @RoundballPete on Twitter.


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