Chris Paul is a six-time NBA All-Star, a former Rookie of the Year, has made five NBA All-Defensive teams, and has two gold medals with Team USA. He’s debatably the most crafty point guard in the league, with lightening speed and the ability to finish at the rim.
The one thing he doesn’t have is an NBA Championship. Because of that, head coach Doc Rivers has let Paul know that he still hasn’t done a thing.
"As professional athletes, you always want someone to push you and motivate you," Paul said. "The first meeting I had with Doc, he pretty much told me I wasn't anything. He told me I hadn't done anything in this league, and he was right.”
Rivers has guided many stars during his career as a coach, and told this to Paul in the first face-to-face meeting they had. Paul took Rivers advice to heart, hinting that his coach was right.
“You don't always want somebody that's going to tell you what you want to hear,” Paul said.
Rivers has coached some very good basketball teams in the past. Most recently, Doc guided the Paul Pierce – Kevin Garnett – Ray Allen Celtics trio to a title in the 2007-2008 season, his only NBA Championship.
Judging by what he sees from his new team, he believes the Clippers have all the pieces in place.
"It's realistic for some [teams]," Rivers said, "and I believe we are in that some."
Both Rivers and Paul know what is at stake – a chance for the franchise to capture its first NBA Title. Blake Griffin is healthy, DeAndre Jordan and Jamaal Crawford are back, and with the acquisitions of J.J. Redick and Darren Collison the roster is shaping up to be one of the most potent in the league.
Still, Rivers knows that Paul has to be at the center of the team’s success. The new coach has already told Paul that his career-low 33.2 minutes-per-game and 16.9 points-per-game will increase, and that the star will have all the freedom he needs.
"He's an All-Star and a genius," Rivers said of Paul. "I'm dumb enough or smart enough to know not to get in the way of that. We can help him, too. We want to make things easier for him, especially in transition offensively. Defensively, I know I can help him. We can do some things differently.”
Paul says that he is glad to have Rivers on board, and knows that his new coach will push the team to try and achieve the success they are seeking.
"One thing I learned about Doc is he is going to expect you to do certain things. He's not going to baby us. He is going to treat us like men and he is going to give us that opportunity."
Whether or not Paul, Rivers, and the rest of the Clippers team will take advantage of that opportunity remains to be seen.
As the old adage goes, only time will tell.