“THANK YOU NEW ORLEANS for 6 of the BEST years of my life,” an entry on Chris Paul’s Twitter account read. “To the organization, my teammates, coaches, and the fans you will always be my family and have a special place in my heart!!!“
This was CP3’s farewell to the league-owned New Orleans organization nine years ago, after he got shipped to the Clippers for Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and a ’12 1st round draft pick (Austin Rivers). The move put an end to a weeks-long PR beating by the NBA community – from potential conflict of interest to stunning the Hornets’ pursuit of free agents – resulting in what was supposed to be the NBA’s next championship contender dubbed the Lob City Clippers.
I knew we were doing the best thing for New Orleans, and that was my job. You have to stick with what you think was right. I must confess it wasn’t a lot of fun, but I don’t get paid to have fun.David Stern, ESPN
The deal had the other LA team fuming since it got finalized six days after Stern vetoed a three-team trade that would’ve sent an All-Star point guard to the Lakers. That was another cause for a PR beating — a notion that the league prioritized keeping a competitive landscape somewhat balanced by going out of its area of authorization. But according to the late great NBA commissioner, the ground for such accusations was nonexistent.
What ‘cancelation’? The GM [Dell Demps] was not authorized to make that trade. And acting on behalf of owners, we decided not to make it. I was an owner rep. There was nothing to ‘void.’ It just never got made.David Stern, NBA
Instead of joining Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul was paired with a 22-year-old Blake Griffin, who was coming off a historic rookie campaign. For the entirety of Paul’s run with the Clippers, the two were up there with the most dynamic duos in the whole association, with a talent pool around them good enough to make a push for an NBA title. But they were never able to capitalize on it.
Paul led the team to six-straight Playoff appearances, but they could never make it past the second round. Whether it was injuries, locker room disruptions, or choke jobs, CP3 could never get the Clippers over the hump. That’s why his run in LA will forever be remembered for one thing — underachieving.