Paul still pounding at the championship door


VIDEO: Chris Paul talks Clippers-Spurs matchup.

LOS ANGELES — When Doc Rivers took over the Clippers job two summers ago and met with Chris Paul, he had this to say to the point guard, rather bluntly: “You haven’t won anything in this league.”

And Paul later admitted: “Yeah, he’s right. I haven’t.”

Here they are, another 50-plus win regular season in the books, another splendid season by Paul behind them, another chance to win something, and the Clippers get the Spurs in the first round starting Sunday night. It’s almost as if the basketball Gods are punishing Paul for stealing the athletic ability from his commercial twin brother Cliff. Or something like that. Paul is perhaps the best point guard of the last half-decade or so, and 10 seasons into a certain Hall of Fame career is still one of the top 10 players in the league, and yet his heavy list of personal accomplishments hasn’t translated into a championship or even a trip beyond the second round of the playoffs.

He is either headed down the same path as Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, titans without a title, or maybe the coronation is coming soon, perhaps this June. All Paul knows is the nightmare of last summer, often relived by critics, when he crumbled in Game 5 against Oklahoma City and stumbled into a long, hot summer.

“CP is on a mission and that’s good for everybody,” Rivers said.

Paul seems humbled by his lack of summer success. Introspective by nature, and a proud leader to boot, Paul doesn’t get snippy when asked about his missing ring. He acknowledges his fate without accepting it and simply says, sounding very believable, that his next crack at a championship will be his best crack while also conceding that time waits for no one.

“I feel like you’ve got to seize the moment every year,” he said. “You never know what could happen with injuries and all that different kind of stuff.”

On the even of Clippers-Spurs, a first-round matchup with the aroma of a Western Conference final, Rivers tried to reduce the temperature in the room. Failing to win a title this season, Rivers said, doesn’t mean all is lost. The Clippers are relatively young and the core is still in its prime.

“I don’t think (our) sense of urgency is greater than Tim Duncan’s, and they won the title last year,” Rivers said. “My hope is every single player wants to win a title. Then, isn’t everyone’s urgency the same? I laugh when people say `it’s a must win for (us).’ But isn’t it a must win for the other team?”

Well, sure. It does. But Rivers knows, deep down, the rules are different for superstars. They make the most money, reap the most benefits, luxuriate in the most praise and therefore, in order to confirm their status, shouldn’t winning a title be part of the deal?

Yes, there are excuses. Barkley was stuck on lousy teams in Philly and in Phoenix, he couldn’t beat Michael Jordan. Ewing couldn’t beat Jordan either, and when the window opened a crack after Jordan played baseball, Ewing couldn’t beat Hakeem Olajuwon. Paul can’t beat the Spurs; he’s 0-2 against them in the playoffs, but there’s no icon standing between him and the trophy unless you feel Steph Curry already qualifies.

Paul has been gifted with a top-5 coach like Rivers, and a top-5 forward in Blake Griffin, and a top-5 big man in DeAndre Jordan, and one of the best sixth men in Jamal Crawford. The bench is mostly baloney but if the Clippers are reaching deep into the rotation for help in the playoffs, nothing can save them. Basically, while the Clippers aren’t heads and shoulders above the other contenders in the West or the NBA, they have a chance. Paul has his chance.

And yet he also has perhaps his hardest road ever. He must get through Popovich and Duncan and Parker, and then maybe Harden, and then maybe Curry, and if all goes well and the Clippers are in the NBA Finals, he’ll likely say hello to LeBron.

Therefore: If Chris Paul this summer finally wins his first title, wouldn’t it feel like he just won two?

13 Comments

  1. Sanyo Jean says:

    Clippers are going to win it all this year, and I believe in the PointGod CP3!!!

  2. Paul says:

    That’s not CP’s fault. I think they’ll beat the Spurs this year.

  3. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    CP has never been knocking at the Championship door, he’s never been past the second round, CP and Blake need to bring it this year, To bad they play the Spurs.

  4. I think the clippers could beat the spurs in the first round. But they are not deep enough to go past the second round.

    Even if they do get past the second round, they will get stomped in the western conference finals.

    I’m rooting for them, but I’m not betting on them. No sir.

  5. Jay says:

    DEFENSE! Clippers have all the “O” any team could want they just need to lock down on “D” and hit some damn FT’s!

  6. Stopmakingexcuses says:

    Let’s be honest. The clippers are a talented team players wise. I just don’t see any of these guys as championship type players. Just stating my opinion even tho many people love CP-0.( 0 rings) a.k.a skip bayless.

  7. Novelist Montage says:

    Donald Sterling and that woman messed up what the Clips had going last season with their idiocy and bigotry

  8. Dan says:

    The only time it will feel like he won two, is after he has won two. Stop the nonsense.

    If he wants a better chance at winning one or more championships he should move the the East. The West is tough.

    • Stopmakingexcuses says:

      They still gotta play the western conference champion in the finals. C’mon dude. If he wants to win a series or two he should move to the eastern conference. That makes more sense idiot

  9. Ball Hogger says:

    Clippers starting 5 is definently top 3 in the league. Only thing bad about that is they carry most of the teams work so if they fail then so does the team. Until Clippers get a few decent players in, they will not be legitimate title contenders. They still got a chance though!

  10. PolyRicardo says:

    It’s Clippers and if they play defense…YES : CP3 will win a title !

  11. harriethehawk says:

    Flippers are way overrated, won’t win a title, forget about it.