NBA ‘super friend’ Chris Paul quietly creates a legacy amid hatred

Today’s NBA hosts a plethora of otherworldly talent. Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard come to mind immediately as the batch of young guns taking the basketball world by storm.

But another group of supreme talent is still hanging around, and they are not ready to leave just yet. 

Dubbed as the “Super Friends,” LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh have dominated the NBA for the better part of the last decade. The group of close friends and competitors have collectively amassed 8 NBA Championships along with a large number of other individual awards. 

Due to controversial circumstances, 4 of the 5 were regular fixtures of the media spotlight. It all started with James’ “Decision” in 2010 leading to the creation of a new Miami Heat “Big 3” of himself, Bosh and Wade. Meanwhile, Anthony has had a long history of controversy with the New York Knicks and has recently been embroiled in public spats with team President Phil Jackson and rumors of marital estrangement. 

Only one has somehow avoided drama all these years: Chris Paul. 

However, despite a clean off-court record, many couldn’t help but criticize his lack of playoff success. This stems from the fact that his 12-year stint in the league has produced zero conference finals appearances and of course, by extension, NBA championships. 

But as Paul proved in the 111-106 Game 3 win of the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round matchup against the Utah Jazz on Friday, April 21 (Saturday Manila time), he is still just as exceptionally talented as his peers are. 

Just as James obliterated a 26-point deficit against the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of their series, Paul assisted and shot his way into erasing a 15-point lead by Utah. The pass-first point guard finished with 34 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals on 12/22 shooting. Quietly, Paul is answering the critics through consistent leadership on the court.

To quote Shakespeare in his 1605 play Coriolanus, “Who deserves greatness, deserves your hate.” Through the hate, did Paul indeed achieve greatness. Like his buddy Anthony, he has played at the highest level for a very long time despite a lack of playoff success. 

For 12 years – 6 each split with New Orleans and Los Angeles – the 31-year-old Paul’s consistency is undeniable. For his first six seasons as a Hornet, he averaged 18.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals. For his latter 6 years as a Clipper, his numbers barely moved (and that’s a compliment) at 18.8 points, 9.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals. Neither aging nor hate have slowed him down at his craft. 

If the Clippers fail yet again this season to advance deep into the post-season, it is certainly no fault of Paul. It’s easy to point fingers at the leader for not carrying his team and even easier to overlook all the carrying he has already done. With him having stats of decimal-level consistency and a mature outlook for competition for more than a decade, what more do you really want him to do? – Rappler.com