Athletes are too harshly judged by the number of championships they win throughout their professional basketball careers. It’s often the last line of defense when comparing players at different positions in another era. Considering the variables that have to fall in place to end a season with a champagne shower and soggy cigar, winning an NBA title is as likely as winning the lottery in a small town. Ironically, the toughest critics are the most pedestrian, everyday people that have never been eye level with a rim or been paid millions to show up at work in a tank top and shorts.
Therefore, we can be honest about exactly who Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul really is. Paul is the best point guard to ever play in the city of Los Angeles. Los Angeles Laker fans, take a breath. Yes, better than former Laker Magic Johnson, a champion who revolutionized the game, position, and tight shorts. The 6-foot-9 author of Showtime was a flash first play-maker that could distribute and score in an era where walking and chewing gum was one of life’s biggest head-scratchers for men his size.
For Paul, it’s his size that makes him so heroic. At 5-foot-10-ish, Paul sees over no one. Yet, the league’s perennial assist leader and Clippers top scorer is the best pure point guard in the NBA and has been in the conversation since the day he entered the league.
As a player, Johnson gave every teammate on the floor a principle role in Showtime when “he makes the players around him better” was a description of the five-time World Champion’s style of play, and not the repetitious cliche basketball purists use to detail the prerequisite to being a pure point guard.
Since Johnson retired the NBA suffered through decades of point guards trying to lead the league in scoring. What the commercial empire, former Chicago Bull Michael Jordan, achieved during his career sent the message that “passing don’t pay” loud and clear. It appeared as though the art of the pass was lost while the tempo of the game was being controlled by defensive schemes and whistles.
In 2005, the reincarnation of the pure floor general was drafted No. 5 overall by the New Orleans Hornets. As a rookie, Paul was being hyped as the next best point guard in basketball. Where Johnson used a high basketball IQ and his unique ability to see over any defender to create his magic, Paul manipulated the flow of the game through change of pace dribbling and unsolicited gift baskets to players who wouldn’t otherwise find their way the scoring column.
Johnson, a former NCAA National Champion, was drafted by a championship Laker team and started his jewelry collections in just seven months. Paul is in his ninth season with gaudy stats and nothing to show for it. But with the game on the line both Johnson and Paul would make the correct decision.
ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter@whatrockschis. Like him on Facebook. Christopher-Rant Sports.