Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chris Paul Day at HP: Love Him Now

The following is an HP contribution to Chris Paul Day. Your contributor is Matt Moore.

Thomas Hobbes once wrote that the life of man is "nasty, brutish, and short." Hobbes was a smart guy, if not exactly a pleasant ray of sunshine. And it's true what he said. Yet there are things in life that aren't essentially nasty or brutish, even if they are short. I am personally a sucker for Quinton Tarantino flicks, a good (or bad) Syrah, and the musical stylings of bad mid-90s rock bands (today's selection: Jimmy's Chicken Shack). Too often, especially in the realm of sports, we tend to forget to enjoy things as they come. We're always looking to the next step, the next day, the next season, the next game. It's natural. As human beings, we tend to naturally expect more, to demand more, to hope for more. And as fans that's especially true. So it is with Chris Paul.

On Monday, Tom Ziller, recently called "one of the best basketball minds we have these days" penned what is undoubtedly the best piece on the conceptual future of Chris Paul. It's clear from the evidence Ziller presents that CP3's ceiling is unlike anything we've seen before in the NBA in terms of overall ability to produce in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. How many times do you hear the giddy notes of joy from television pundits, radio talk show hosts, newspaper columnists and bloggers alike that "The kid is only 22 years old! Think about how good this kid could be in a few years?"

This league, this sport, this world isn't made for the future. Let's not mention the possibilities, because, you know, I don't want to get tagged with jinxing one of the best players in the NBA. And with so much unknown, and the progression of NBA players a mystery, it suits to heighten a simple truth.

What Chris Paul is doing right now should be remembered.

There's so little about Paul's performance this season that isn't perfect. It's not just the efficiency, or the assists, or the steals, or the clutch performances. It's not just the way he's helped New Orleans out by keeping the focus on an area that still needs help. It's not just the leadership, or the dazzling highlights, or the play that forces you to watch him on both ends of the floor. It's all of it. It's that we haven't seen this out of a 22-year-old, not with this kind of passing ability. It's that he's got so much for all of us to hope for. It's that he's leading a team against the defending champions with confidence and swagger. With a mean streak and a nice smile, Paul has become the most amazing part of this season.

There's something perfect in this moment, in which Paul is still building his legend. A great example of this is LeBron. Sure, his best days are ahead of him. But last year when he mannihilated the Pistons, it was a special time. After watching him go deadzone against the Celtics, I miss that LeBron. It's likely that we've got years of watching Paul lob to Chandler and slice for layups. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't remember this season as the one where he made the jump.

He may not be MVP.

But he's most something. There may not be a word for it yet.

I'm sure Paul will help us figure it out.

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