A Daily Babble Production
Most of what Chris Paul does on a basketball court makes it a joy to watch him play. His foul-line-to-block quickness is one-of-a-kind in the league today, and his stutter-step move in the lane is mesmerizing. CP3 gets his teammates great looks on the perimeter and around the hoop, especially via the lob to Tyson Chandler. He works at the defensive end, makes his free throws and pushes the ball with a joyful gusto in transition. This man has carried his team on a nightly basis for the last two seasons and has indicated himself one of the most valuable players in the league.
If only he would just quit pouting.
Paul does so many things well on the floor and seems to be a likable enough guy off it. But there's something I can't stand about the way his body language changes when things aren't going his way.
It's easy to tell when Paul becomes unhappy with the way he or his team is playing. He begins with the officials, stopping for an extra second after every call or non-call that he doesn't like to throw his hands up and hit the crew with his patented CP3 Sad Face (not quite up there with the Angry Perk Face, by the way). He scrunches up his entire face to the point that it pains the muscles in mine just to look at it through the television set.
CP3 isn't averse to releasing some frustration on his opponents either. On a couple of occasions this season, I've watched him decide to run the Hornets' offense by turning his back to the basket above the foul line and attempting to simply bull through his man. Against Nate Robinson in New York in March, Paul hip-checked the hyperactive Nate three times before drawing an absurd whistle on Robinson for a push and then clenching his fists when it became clear that the diminutive Robinson was ready to go after him after the play. Double technicals were called, and the tit-for-tat didn't provide any spark for the Hornets. It isn't the only time we've seen that sort of act from Paul this year. The 20-foot-post-up doesn't help the offense get back in rhythm, and his looking for silly confrontation isn't worth much either.
CP3 is also a specialist at using his lack of size to take a shot at a bigger player and then play the "Who me?" role. We saw a bit of that yesterday afternoon when Paul lowered his shoulder and jumped into Chris Andersen on a screen (and was correctly called for a foul), then put his hands in the air and threw on the CP3 Sad Face as though wondering what he could have done wrong. Again, it isn't the first time.
As my buddy Acks loves to remind me, "He's no boy scout. This is, after all, the guy who punched Julius Hodge below the belt in college."
I don't think one awfully inappropriate play during his collegiate career defines Chris Paul, and I don't think some of his antics discussed above do either. But there is something that strikes me as unbecoming about watching a guy as good - and usually as fun to watch - as Chris Paul doing those things from time to time. He doesn't need to try to bowl people over. He doesn't need to appeal to the officials on his rough days. He is the best point guard this league has to offer. It's hard to imagine that his team wouldn't be better off if he directed that negative energy toward continuing to play his game and working to bring his team back on days when the Hornets don't seem to have it.
Perhaps I'm unfairly singling out CP3 here. While no NBA player has ever committed a foul, stars across the league are often the worst about the pouting issue. Kobe Bryant loves to pretend his teammates don't exist during timeouts or to bark at referees on his way down the floor. Every now and then, LeBron James goes to the floor like he's been shot, only to get up at full strength after Mike Brown has been allowed to sprint to halfcourt screaming bloody murder. Our beloved Celtics (and one of their announcers) are in the officials' ear at every turn.
But I can't put my figner on it. Something about CP3's brand of expressing frustration strikes me as...babyish. It is unsightly.
I love that such a talented player has the competitive spirit to go along with his ability. It must be a pleasure for New Orleans fans to know that CP3 hates to lose as much as he does. He always seems to be smiling away from the court, and I know of no reason to believe that he isn't a model citizen. Paul is as watchable as any player in the NBA, so maybe this really is nitpicking on my part.
But it sure would be great if he - and sure, several other stars, too - could knock off the pouting.