HOUSTON – During Saturday’s All-Star practice at George R. Brown Convention Center, Clippers point guard showed why he is considered one of the most competitive players in the NBA, and also one of its most likeable.  

There were two moments at the practice, hosted at Sprint Arena within the confines of Jam Session, independent of one another. Moments that make fellow All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving’s words seem well selected.  

“[Paul] does everything. He does everything exceptionally well,” Irving said. “There are a couple of young point guards in this league and we’re all growing together and we’re the future of the league, but CP3 (Paul) is kind of the model of how to be the perfect point guard.” 

The perfection Irving alluded to begins with Paul’s competitiveness, which even stood out in Saturday’s workout for what amounts to an exhibition event the following day. 

While he was jovial and ever-friendly, talking to his close friend LeBron James at midcourt or chatting up Tim Duncan and Tony Parker during a pre-practice stretch, he also was the first to grab the ball when presented with a half-court shot challenge between the conferences. 

The groups, consisting of three players from the East and three from the West, were allotted a minute’s time to make as many shots as they could from the mid-court line. After they were tied, 2-2, as the clock expired. The on-court announcer said they would conduct a sudden death overtime period. Russell Westbrook and Irving went first and both missed. James made one, meaning the West had to make its next shot, or lose the friendly competition.

Of course, Paul confidently took the ball, moved a step behind the line and heaved a shot from his right shoulder. The ball flicked off the rim and the East won, but the message from Paul seemed clear: he won’t back down; even when it means taking the last shot from 45 feet in a competition that means nothing. 

That’s the kind of competitor you want leading your team, and it’s precisely what has spurred him to his sixth All-Star selection in eight seasons. 

“It never gets old,” Paul said of playing in the All-Star Game. “You know, it’s my eighth year in the NBA and my sixth All-Star game, so first of all it goes fast. It goes really fast. I remember being a wide-eyed kid in my first All-Star game. Now it’s my sixth and I’ve actually got a son here now that gets to take it all in with me.” 

It is not unusual for Paul to share his biggest NBA successes with his three-year-old son. Little Chris was on hand when the Clippers upended the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 3 and 4 in the first round of the playoffs last season. And has become as much a part of the Clippers’ postgame locker room as anyone not wearing a uniform. 

Paul had his son by his side again Saturday in the pre-practice media scrum when he told a group of reporters that his favorite player, other than his father, is Clippers star Blake Griffin.  

After practice as players were exiting the court, launching miniature basketballs into the stands, Little Chris was on the floor dribbling a regulation-size basketball. Kobe Bryant’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna, was there, too, guarding Little Chris. And they would switch, one playing offense, the other defense; their fathers laughing and teaching as they went. 

The moment was a flicker in time, but was surreal in many ways; the next generation of two of the NBA’s greatest stars sharing a private, but very much public moment with their famous fathers.


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