Chris Paul is now one of the three biggest NBA stars without a championship, with Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard being the other two. Who is feeling the most pressure to lead his team to the coveted title?
It’s not Chris Paul.
Paul is easily one of the top point guards in the NBA, if not the best. Among point guards in the 2011-12 season, he ranked first in steals, first in PER, third in points per game and third in assists.
He is also the clear leader of a team with big personalities like Blake Griffin and Kenyon Martin.
Despite Paul’s outsized production, his undersized persona keeps the pressure off. Maturing at Wake Forest and with the Hornets kept Paul and his stardom out of the limelight.
Another trait Paul has been working to keep outside pressure off of is his affability. He never seems to do or say the wrong thing, much like Kevin Durant. Building a reputation as a nice person makes a star player easy to root for, championship or not.
During this year’s postseason, Durant grew his fanbase a ton by hugging his mom after every game and taking responsibility for his own actions. When it appeared LeBron James fouled him on a late-game shot, Durant didn’t blame the officials.
“I just missed the shot, man,” Durant said. Simple as that.
That’s one of the reasons Durant is not the superstar with the most pressure on him to win an NBA title. That role goes to Dwight Howard.
Howard has thrust himself to the top of this list using an outstanding array of arrogance and outlandishness.
Howard has jerked around the only franchise he has ever played for. He wants to be there, he doesn’t want to be there, he hates his coach, he loves his coach. He’s behaving like a child.
That childlike giant in a Superman cape is what made the world fall in love with Howard from the start. He was always having fun on the floor, always smiling.
Now he’s entered a bickering match with what seems like all of Orlando.
When he leaves, and it seems imperative that he will, Howard must take his new team to the title—especially if he joins forces with what could be a dangerous Nets team in 2012-13.
Anyone who openly puts the franchise that drafted him on public blast the way Howard has will automatically draw ridicule when he departs (see: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers). The only way to stem the spewing hatred is to win (see: LeBron James, Miami Heat).
With Howard’s incessant need to be loved by fans, he will feel mountains of pressure packed onto his mountainous shoulders to win the 2013 NBA championship.