Chris Paul is a punk — unless he’s wearing your team’s jersey.
Which means he’s no punk at all.
Anyone who’s not a Hornets fan probably disagrees. Anyone who braved snow-packed streets and bitterly cold weather to watch the Thunder defeat New Orleans 104-93 on Wednesday night definitely disagrees.
Even though hearts sank when Paul suffered a left ankle sprain early in the game, hopes for a Thunder victory rose with the Hornet star sidelined.
He’s not only one of the best players in the NBA but also one of the feistiest.
He does little things that bug the bejeezus out of opponents. He kicks out his leg on jumpers to draw a foul. He exaggerates contact to make it look like he’s been bashed instead of bumped. He wants every call, even if there’s no way it should go his way.
He tries to figure out any way to get an edge.
Anything to help his team win.
Hornets first-year coach Monty Williams heard all about Paul’s skill and talent before taking the job last summer.
“But I had no idea he was such a competitor,” the rookie head coach said. “Rarely do you see superstar guys playing one-on-one at the end of practice after a long practice, and I’ve seen him do that countless times.”
Paul wants to win.
The reason he returned Wednesday night when it looked like he might’ve suffered an ankle injury that would sideline most players for weeks is the same reason he does those little things that so annoy everyone else in the league.
Paul is a lot like Reggie Miller. That guy was a thorn in the side of every NBA team, but he is a legend in Indiana. Go to Indianapolis, where he played for almost two decades, and try to find someone who thinks he was dirty. Ask any Pacers fan, and see if they think he was devious.
None of those folks thinks Miller was anything but brilliant.
Ditto for Paul and Hornets fans.