Chris Paul is not infallible.
The future Hall-of-Famer is the best point guard of his generation. He’s shown no signs of slowing down now that he’s reached the halfway point of his storied career, and just willed his team to victory against the defending champions in May with one of the most memorable Game 7 performances of all-time.
Paul is already a legend at 30, lack of postseason success notwithstanding. That will remain the case no matter how his remaining playing days unfold. But for the sake of Paul’s legacy plus his chances of winning an elusive championship, it sure is helpful that DeAndre Jordan pulled the surprise of the summer by spurning the Dallas Mavericks to stay with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Details behind Jordan’s shocking change of heart need no further explanation. But what still merits scrutiny as the Clippers begin preparing for 2015-2016 is the big man’s relationship with Paul, one that’s long been considered rocky by league insiders. Both players have downplayed that talk since the big man’s decision, insisting their bond extends beyond that which is normally shared by teammates. After Paul called Jordan his “little big brother,” the latter confirmed familial feelings for the former in a post for The Players’ Tribune.
As we all know, though, coexisting with kin and the next closest thing can be complicated – and it’s fair to say that’s proven the case for Paul and Jordan. On a recent podcast with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, Clippers super-sub Jamal Crawford touched on the nature of his teammates’ relationship.
The free-agency magnifying glass can’t be discounted here. Rumors of Jordan’s potential departure from Los Angeles surfaced well before the season was over. That he and Paul play for a perennial power in one of the league’s glamor markets only adds to unnecessary focus on this “story,” too.
And as Crawford says, teammates don’t have to be the best of friends. Respect, understanding, and cooperation are the only attributes necessary for Paul and Jordan to forge a successful union, and every indication is that they will share them going forward.
Paul is a drill sergeant who demands the highest effort from his teammates. The Clippers will be on the shortlist of legitimate title contenders next season as long as Jordan and company give it to him, and so many whispers of locker-room friction will be rendered inconsequential – just as Crawford insists they should have been all along.
(Via Alex Kennedy)