Chris Paul's reputation has certainly - let us say - "evolved" tremendously over the past year or so. Recall that after the successes of the 2008 season and the soul crushing fiasco that was 2009, Paul was largely cast as a sort of tragic victim - a down-trodden, Dickensian character, forever oppressed by the horrors of Helvin Brownarms.
But then, CP-Leaks happened, and Paul's public image hasn't really ever been the same. It was a strong shot of disillusionment to the arm. Coupled with his contract starting to wind down, the fact that Paul could one day leave New Orleans became a stark reality. I fully accept how naive and ridiculous this sounds, but I always saw Paul as a bit different from most players - the unassuming personality, lack of jewelry, tattoos, Escalade*, the forceful declaration of loyalty ahead of his first extension, and so on.
*not that I don't like these things; an emerald encrusted grill is my most prized possession.
Now? Who knows. Is he or is he not represented by LMRMMRMR? Is he just a really big Yankees fan or, if you'll excuse the redundancy, something more sinister? "Chris" "Paul"? Is that even his real name?
All of that is why the news from his North Carolina basketball camp was gobbled up by me, and should be by you, like a baked ziti also being gobbled up by me (or you, if you like baked ziti as much as me.*)
From CBS Sports' Eye on College Basketball:
There was one player I was as impressed with, if not more so, than anyone else this week at Peach Jam.
Paul was encouraging, tempered and obviously invested as he watched the U-17 and U-16 teams that play under his moniker. As far as I could tell, he watched every game, too. And there was no entourage, no big production when he walked through double doors and peeked at his teams. Just a man and his 2-year-old son.
Paul was almost kicked out of the building Thursday morning during the game against the Playaz. Kicked out? Indeed. Why? Because the official had no idea the man arguing with him over a call was Chris Freaking Paul.
Paul will also be playing in Manila, Phillipines next weekend, along with Kobe Bryant, Tyreke Evans, James Harden, DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Williams, and two PTBNL, so go if you're in the area.
In other international news, Australia and Swarm and Sting's J. Grayson takes on Ken Berger's (if you've got 42 seconds to kill, watch my favorite basketball video of 2011) take on NBA contraction. And while you're there, Jake Madison also posed an interesting question last week. My answer would be "no, too risky," but it's worth thinking about.
And finally, one more Chris Paul story.