If you closed your eyes and threw a rock into a group of people there’s a good chance that you might hit a Chris Paul fan square in the noggin. He’s a popular basketball player amongst avid ballers and a household name even in a residence where no one watches hoops. This popularity though, was earned from consistently being better than his peers and dominating the competition. When his exalted career is all said and done, CP3 will undoubtedly go down in hardwood history.
History of CP3
Christopher Emanuel Paul was born in North Carolina where he played basketball and football in his early years. But once a freshman in high school he decided to focus solely on the court. He was told by many that he was too small and that he wouldn’t be able to get much out of playing b-ball. Chris started, but his size was a crutch that doomed him to play JV for his school his first two years. This humbling experience put a chip on Paul’s shoulder, and awoke a beast inside him.
That summer CP3 played on an AAU team which gave him the exposure he needed as they made it to the finals. His team whooped on Illinois which was considered at the time a powerhouse. His junior year he was finally given his chance to start on the varsity team and didn’t disappoint. Paul averaged 25 points a game and was raising the eyebrows of numerous college coaches around the country. Though Paul would turn down those other offers and sign a letter of intent with local university Wake Forest. Everything was going great for the man once thought to be too small to have success on the court.
Unfortunately the Paul family would suffer a severe blow. Chris Paul’s biggest fan and best friend, his grandfather, would be shot dead in a robbery gone wrong. “Papa Chilly” was 61 years old at the date of his fatal end and the importance of that number will be evident soon. Paul attended Papa Chilly’s funeral one day before his first senior basketball game, and many figured he would sit out. He didn’t. CP3 was on a mission to honor his fallen friend in the best way he could, HOOPS! As the game went on and the stat sheet was being logged by Chris’s father he started to realize what he [Chris] was doing.
Paul planned to score 61 points, one point for every year of his grandfather’s life. The packed gym was in awe at the proficiency he was shooting at, he seemingly couldn’t miss. Once he hit 59 points he was went up for a shot and was fouled on a floater. Chris then threw the ball out of bounds to intentionally miss the free throw. With 61 points in his box score his mission was complete. Everyone chanted his name as he walked to the stands and collapsed into his father’s arms.
That year he averaged 30 points a game with 6 steals on the defensive side of things. This helped him lead West Forsyth to a 27-3 record and a trip to the Class 4A regional finals. It also won him Mr. basketball for the state of North Carolina and was a McDonalds All-American.
Though Paul says he was secretly waiting on the Tar Heels to make him an offer, he was still happy to be playing in a D1 school in his hometown. Wake Forest was the alma mater for several big name basketball players such as Tim Duncan, Mugsey Bogues, Len Chappell and obviously now Chris Paul. With 14 points, 6 assists and 3 steals Paul set a school record and was awarded the ACC rookie of the year his freshman year while also leading the Demon Deacons to the sweet 16. His Sophomore year Paul posted similar numbers and was a big part in Wake Forest getting their first #1 ranking in school history. They finished 5th in the final AP poll and ultimately lost on the second round of march madness. CP3 would later in life have his #3 jersey retired at wake forest.
Paul hit the ground running in the league. After being drafted in the top 5 by the New Orleans Hornets [number 4] he didn’t waste any time making himself known. Chris in his first season led all rookies in points, assists, steals and double-doubles. He also was only the second rookie in NBA history to lead the league in steals. At the end of the year we was rightfully named rookie of the year and was one vote short of a unanimous decision.
In 2007 Paul made his first NBA all star game appearance, and it was well deserved. He had the Hornets sitting high atop the Western Conference standings and even held the #1 spot for a period of time. Paul also led the Hornets to a franchise record 56-win season. He would end the year the leader in assists. In his playoff debut he played lights out setting records for assists as he usually does and helping to beat the Mavericks in 5 games. He received his first All NBA and Defensive team honors that same year putting a cap on a terrific 3rd year.
Paul set a record for consecutive games with at least one steal and was often a few steals away from the ultra rare quadruple double. The Hornets as a team and an organization weren’t that good. This was proven when Paul suffered an injury and the Hornets struggled badly without him, missing the playoffs entirely.
Paul is known as a pass first point guard now but he was constantly averaging 20 or more for a season. In fact his scoring was the main reason the team was successful. In the first round of the 2010-11 playoffs the defending champ Lakers faced off with the Hornets and CP3 had himself a game. He put up historic numbers that you had to see to believe and nearly beat the Lakers single handedly. Ownership knew Paul was displeased and was attempting to leave in free agency. So they scrambled to trade him for assets in return versus letting him walk and getting nothing. After much back and forth and push back from the league and David Stern including a failed trade of Paul to the Kobe led Lakers that would have shook the realms. Eventually he settled down in the other LA team.
While with the Clippers, Paul was in the limelight. The Staples Center was a famed arena and LA was one of the largest markets. It was here where those who didn’t know the name would soon become witnesses. Lob city became the place to be! On any given night you might see the most spectacular spectacle of supernatural basketball ability ever. Chris Paul added his flare and glamour to Blake’s ferocity and creativity, mixed with DJ’s side and length. This was a recipe for success and boy did they have success. Even more importantly they all became stars just off the exposure and the excitement. Chris Paul averaged 19 and 9 for the season and earning him an all NBA 1st team selection. From 2012 to 2017 the clippers never missed the playoffs under the leadership of Chris Paul.
From LA to H-Town
On paper this pair were looking like an almost unfair backcourt duo. The shooting range and 30 point double-double threat of Harden mixed with that defensive tenacity and sixth sense from Paul had the rest of the west shaking and trembling. Even as an older cat, Paul was still a menace on the hardwood. The whole league was about to get a rude reminder. Despite not possessing much of a championship caliber team around them, the big-2 and often mentioned big-3 with Capela lit the league up with 65 wins to 17 losses. This only tells part of the story. Because as anyone who witnessed this team would tell you the injuries were the Achilles heel for them.
What could of been
Paul would miss an entire month after playing the first game of the season and beating the defending champion Warriors. They would then go on a 14 game win streak upon his return before he suffered another injury. Harden would then miss games with an injury issue as well, and so forth and so on. This was a theme for the 2018 Rockets. Yet despite this they were still historically good and easily grabbed the best record in the conference. Perhaps if the big-3 could have played the entire season together they would have beat the record set by the Warriors of 73 wins. Some say that the Harden and Paul pairing was hand and glove and even rivaled the legendary back court of Earl the Pearl and Clyde Frazier.
The success spilled over into the playoffs where they bullied past every team they faced. Even going up one game against the Warriors and put them in a 3-2 elimination game. Paul, unfortunately, went down with another injury and the Rockets played their worst basketball of the season missing threes left and right. They were trying to lean on some James Harden heroics. Unfortunately. that just seemed to be non existent in the playoffs as the former MVP played about as well as the kid passing out soft pretzels at the concession.
Tanking…or maybe not?
After a two year stint with the Rockets, both years ending in the playoffs might I add, the relationship between the two co-stars grew sour and they both wanted the other to leave. Houston believed Harden was their future and decided to deal CP3 to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook. This deal worked out terribly for the Rockets as they ended up trading Westbrook after one year for being terribly inefficient. Harden forced his way out while severing all ties to the team before stepping through the door.
However, for the Thunder who most thought would buy out Chris’s contract and trade him to a team he could actually win with; they did not do that. They kept Chris for the whole year and many believed they would tank for a 1st rounder and just begin an early rebuild. Chris had other plans. He took the mentor role and turned those young stars into hungry dogs. They fought hard the whole year for a playoff berth. He had people singing his praises and MVP chants manifested as he willed that team to a 49-33 record good enough for 6th in the West.
The Suns traded for a veteran player poised to be a first ballot hall of farmer when its all said and done. James Jones, last year’s executive of the year, made sure to get the point guard into a Phoenix Jersey after seeing what he could do with a young talented roster; eyebrows were raised and curiosity was peaked. The greatest point guard of this generation proved that knowledge and leadership are timeless as he led the Suns to the 2nd best record in the West. He averaged similar point and assists totals to his career average. And he put another All-NBA selection and All-star game on his already “Godly” resume.
The big-3 of Ayton, Booker, and Paul took the league over. They were such a fun and talented group to watch. In the playoffs they ripped through the King of LA and put the League MVP and his Nuggets out swiftly and effectively. The real test was against the relentless Los Angeles Clippers who had come back from two straight series in which they were down games. Phoenix suited up and stepped on their gloves for the fight of their life, some say that missing Kawhi was a break for the Suns, but if you look at the year the Raptors won missing KD and Klay was a break for him. Karma comes around full circle.
CP3 dropped 41 points to slam the door shut on the Clippers and scored 27 points in the second half. This was the moment we all realized just how great CP3 still could be. He went to his first finals and momentum was with the Suns as they were up 2-0 but a bad game by Booker swung the tide the other way and the rest is history. Now at 36 he is working on repeating last year’s success and giving the Valley a reason to be proud again.
Awards and Accolades
- Rookie of the Year Award
- 2x Olympic Gold Medalist
- All star Game MVP
- 6x leader in assists per game
- 4x leader in total assists in a season.
- Most assists by an active player
- 3rd place all-time in assists
- All-rookie 1st team
- 7x All-defensive 1st team
- 2x All-defensive 2nd team
- 4x All-NBA 1st team
- 5x All-NBA 2nd team
- 1x All-NBA 3rd team
- 11x NBA All-Star
- NBA 75th Anniversary team
- 5x top 5 NBA MVP shares
- 45th all time in points
- 6th in points among active players
- 5x season leader in steals
- 5x assists per game leader
- 4th all-time in assists per game
- 1st among active players in assists per game
- 1st among active players in steals all-time
- 6x steals per game leader
- 1st among active players in steals per game
- 5th all-time in steals per game
- 13x top 20 in win shares
- 10th in all-time win shares
- 14x top 20 player efficiency
- 9th all-time in player efficiency
- 4th among active players in player efficiency
- 16x top-20 box plus/minus
- 3rd all-time offensive rating
- 2nd all-time in assist %
- Basketball-Reference grades CP3 with 100% Hall of Fame probability
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