The renaissance Chris Paul is experiencing with the OKC Thunder ties directly to his bond with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
This past offseason when Chris Paul got the news he was traded from the Rockets to the OKC Thunder it offered ample fodder to pundits. Before Paul even pulled on a Thunder jersey every broadcaster and scribe were speculating on when he would be traded and how much Sam Presti would need to attach from the draft closet to move Paul.
Some went as far as stating the vet’s career was waning and he was done. The only problem was everyone but Paul got the memo his career was on that inevitable steep downslide. The veteran point guard arrived back in the market where he spent his first two seasons when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.
This time, things were different and one could argue this circumstance has provided a renaissance for the vet who is in his 15th year in the NBA. That it has become so enjoyable for him is a combination of factors.
Chris Paul revels in his role as mentor with the OKC Thunder
Speaking to Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles of the Knuckleheads podcast, Chris Paul talked about the fit in OKC and his relationship with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the rookie Darius Bazley.
The duo meshed immediately and is at the crux of why this Thunder squad is why most in the industry are citing this roster as one of the feel-good stories of the NBA season.
“You know it’s crazy because you just never know how it’s gonna work out and uh Shai right? — Shai (Richardson interrupts to sing some SGA praises) yeah he’s a fool first and foremost but that’s for real – like my brother, and I think as we’ve been talking and we talk about all these experiences right?”
At times this season the Clutch King has even resembled the young star many in Oklahoma recall from the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. The difference of course being the advanced knowledge Paul has gained through 14 previous campaigns and this time it is Paul who is distributing the knowledge to his backcourt partner and the cornerstone of the OKC Thunder future.
“But I always think about the vets that I had. So I played with P.J. Brown in my rookie year, I played with Bobby Jackson, I mean Nero — Jannero Pargo. I played with guys who taught me about — – like work, right?”
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It turns out perception is often close to reality. Throughout this season fans have witnessed the OKC Thunder starting backcourt of Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander spending ample time together on and off the hardwood.
Whenever the pair are in front of a microphone they are often caught throwing shade at one another. Those of us with close siblings can relate to the duo’s relationship and good-natured banter.
Often the ribbing is of a competitive nature. SGA stating he beat CP3 in a shooting drill or the vet calling out his younger protege for how he burned him in practice.
Just like the older brother often gets the best of the younger brother, Paul is the one winning the challenges. Did I mention Chris Paul is one of the most competitive players to ever don a jersey in the NBA? Earlier this season Paul filmed an episode of Take It There with Taylor Rooks at a bowling alley the pair just had to make it a competition. And, yes – it was Paul who beat the youngster.
“And so for me going into this year, of course, they always going to make the jokes like ah he the old head, he’s old such and such and I’m always with that but I’m going to compete too. You know what I’m saying, I’m gonna show Shai, because me and him always playing against each other, shooting against each other., – – where I’ll be the old head but I still bust your ass, you know what I’m saying, right? For real, for real.”
On the court, the way the two have meshed is part and parcel for the success the team is experiencing this season. Off the court, SGA is learning how to be a solid professional.
Overall, Shai is gaining on the job training for how to become a team leader from arguably the best leader in sports. The value Gilgeous-Alexander will reap from absorbing through osmosis will be felt well into the future.
While Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley are the recipients of Paul’s wisdom, in truth it is the franchise who are the big benefactors. When Paul talks about Shai and Darius during the podcast the glee in his voice is obvious.
That’ why when Paul states he can’t wait to get back on the hardwood with his younger brothers you just know this OKC Thunder crew is ready to continue surprising and cause some damage in Orlando.