It’s round two of the NBA playoffs. The big boys played nice. They shared their ball with the scrappy low seeders. And now it’s time for the contenders to start cashing the checks they’ve been writing since training camp.
This is the time of the year when the tall guys with guaranteed contracts who claim they play for the love of the game actually mean it. And hard-court sociopaths like the Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Clippers Chris Paul risk life and kin to choke the life out of their opponent.
Lucky for kin folk, Bryant is on the mend. And Paul is on the golf course.
Injuries and “Mamba” drama kept the Kobe-less Lakers out of the win column four straight games in a first round sweeping by the San Antonio Spurs. Things happen. Even for Champions. And, for this the Lakers get a pass.
Not so much for Paul and the Clippers.
The Clippers’ free agent point guard has the heart and swag of a champion and jewelry of a broke widow that just returned from a pawn shop. The Clippers lost four straight to the Memphis Grizzlies who closed their best of seven series out in six.
Paul fought while the rest of the team pushed and shoved hoping for someone to hold them back. By the forth quarter of Game 6, it was apparent that he was alone in defeat.
Paul is young, selfless and the best point guard since Magic Johnson to play in Los Angeles. But with so many great players in the NBA and satellite dishes on roof tops, it takes more than folklore to establish greatness. It takes rings. And more than one, a feat no one great player can do alone. A trending conclusion that started when NBA forward LeBron James took his ring finger to South Beach.
The commitment phobic Clippers claim they’re committed to Paul long term. But can the Clippers’ organization make the ultimate commitment and surround the young-ish guard with something more than the flashes of greatness?
There are 27 million reasons why Paul may want to stay in Los Angeles. And that doesn’t include the palm trees and ‘Clipper Darrel’.
But is a max deal, likely Paul’s last, worth five more years of being the star player on the “other” team and a supporting class of maxed out talent? That’s something only Paul can answer for himself.
Christopher Brown is a NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him @whatrockschris, Like him on Facebook