You'd think guys like Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, or most famously Michael Jordan didn't need to pull tricks to win games. Their basketball skill is more than enough, right? Not quite - the hunger to win doesn't just last for 48 minutes, it's non-stop. They think about every possible aspect of the game and how can they gain an advantage, no matter how small it may be
“Paul and I had this little secret. Paul came up to me and he said 'Would you mind doing something for me?' and I said 'No, of course not.' He said 'Before every game would you tell me the names of the officials so that I can communicate with them?' and I said sure. Paul would come out and every game would come up and give me a hug and I would say something like 'Joe Marat and Sam. Sam's the white guy.' Then I watched Paul, he would say 'Sam how you doing? Good to see you tonight. Joe how you doing?'”
Mike Gorman, ">CLNS
Paul was trying to get on the good side of the referees by knowing their names and dapping them up before games. He must've learned from Doc Rivers, the champion of repeating the reporters' names when answering their questions. Referees are just humans who have a tough job of making fair, correct, and timely calls. They should be neutral during games, but if a superstar in the league such as Pierce asked them how they have been or called out their names, it sure brought a positive feeling among the referees.
Kobe-level dedication would be learning all the names before the season. Paul was probably too busy doing other things (as demonstrated in his social media live streams). You don't have to work hard if you can work smart. That's exactly what The Truth did.