Chris Paul is a different kind of superstar. He’s the smallest guy on the court, he’s not an excessive leaper, and his name is short on the type of syllables that PA announcers can hang on. And yet, instead of dooming him to an NBA career of backup-point-guardom, his glaring vertical limitations (that somehow don’t prevent him from being one of the most athletic humans alive, because genetic lottery is a fickle being) have triggered compensatory evolution within the diminutive lead man.
Like a young Erik Lehnsherr, Paul has absorbed his surroundings and, digging deep into his unique genetic material, countered with the ability to control. But whereas Magneto controls metals, Chris Paul controls everything. The rhythm of the basketball’s thud-thud-thud on the court, the defender sticking to Paul’s ass as he’s trying to stick to his front, the screener, the off ball cutter, the refs, the film crew – everybody in the arena does what Chris Paul wants them to do. It’s not hard to identify a vintage Chris Paul masterpiece, as you scour the game film and incredulously note that every single possession happened to tilt Chris Paul’s way.
That’s why Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder was different. Sure, there were elements of vintage Paul on display last night, as he majestically conducted the Clipper ball movement and dribbled circles around poor, pick-and-roll switching Caron Butler, and the ultimate 32 points and 10 assists (only 2 turnovers!) in a meek 28 minutes was exactly the type of box score we’ve come to expect from the Point God.
But no, last night was much more singular, much more raw than that. Chris Paul didn’t win last night because he’s the best point guard alive (though he is, and that certainly helped). He won last night because of pure, unadulterated, fire and brimstone hide-the-women-and-children molten rain. Rain and rain and rain, from deep and beyond, against a hopeless OKC defense that couldn’t do anything but glance at the sideline and ask whether this is really legal. Three after three after three trickled smoothly down mesh, as finally, there was no more. Eight of eight. A final miss as mercy, sure, but seriously – eight threes of eight.
That was Chris Paul last night. That’s Nova.