B/R Interview: Chris Paul Talks Blake Griffin, Re-Signing with Clippers and More

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2013

B/R Interview: Chris Paul Talks Blake Griffin, Re-Signing with Clippers and More

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    All-Star point guard Chris Paul is every bit as knowledgeable and aware as you would expect one of the NBA's top players to be.

    Bleacher Report was able to catch up with the Los Angeles Clippers superstar on the heels of a new Foot Locker commercial featuring him and teammate Blake Griffin.

    The advertisement itself is a gem, and it shows Paul poking fun at Griffin—something he admits isn't quite out of character for him.

    Beyond the commercial and the joy of working with Griffin off the court, Paul was kind enough to share his thoughts on his future in Los Angeles and the new-look Clippers in general, among other things.

    He spoke of how easy his decision to return to the franchise was, the aggressive moves his team made this offseason and the strong leadership qualities of Griffin.

    When Chris Paul speaks, you listen. Intently.

On His New Commercial with Blake Griffin

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    Bleacher Report: To start, could you fill us in on your work with Foot Locker and what has been the most exciting part about it thus far?

    Chris Paul: It's been a lot of fun. What we did is, me and Blake [Griffin] did a new commercial that debuts tomorrow, and it's going to air on ESPN and other major networks. Basically, I start making fun of Blake, which I do pretty often, and—have you seen the spot?

    BR: Yes, I have.

    CP: I think the fans will like it too, because it feels like you see Blake on TV every other day with a different commercial or something like that, so we're basically going to make fun of him.

    BR: Well, it was definitely funny. How has it been working with Blake off the court? Is it any different or just as fun as working with him on it?

    CP: Yeah, it's a lot funner because you get to really show your personality and stuff like that. Blake is hilarious. I think a lot of times people see Blake in game mode and see him dunking and stuff like that, and think that he's always just some... He is actually one of the most funny people I know.

On Re-Signing with the Clippers and Changing Team Culture

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    BR: You seemed really excited to re-sign with the Clippers this summer. What specifically made you so sure you wanted to return, and was there really ever a point where you thought about leaving?

    CP: Nah, there really wasn't; there really wasn't. From day one, since I was traded to the Clippers, the team has been amazing to not only me, but to my family. You know, the guys on the team—Blake and DJ [DeAndre Jordan]—who I've gotten really close with. Me and Blake had some conversations about the team, and bringing in Doc Rivers as a coach also helped.

    BR: Now, about Doc, what are you looking forward to most about playing under him next season?

    CP: I think his leadership. Doc was a guard like myself, not necessarily a point guard, but he knows the game. I think he gets the most out of his players. And I think it's not just one coach who really makes your team. I think it's the coaching staff.

    I've had an opportunity to meet with all the coaches. I knew Kevin Eastman really well, from Nike camp. And this is actually pretty funny... This will actually be the first time I've been in the NBA and had a coach that I've played against [Tyronn Lue].

    I used to say that all the time with Chauncey [Billups]. I used to be like, "Chauncey, how is it playing for a coach that you've played against?" Tyronn Lue, I actually played against him my first four years.

    BR: Bringing in Doc, with you re-signing and the rest of the team being as deep as it is, and especially after what you guys did last season, the expectations are really high. How does it feel to know that you've changed the culture of the Clippers? Is it cool to have this be a part of your legacy and your resume?

    CP: I guess so, but it's not something that I did alone. And I think that the only way it becomes a part of my legacy or anybody else's legacy is if we win. I think expectations are what you make of it, and we still have a lot of work to do.

    A lot of people this year are like, "Man, it's cool to be a Clipper" and stuff like that, well, we want, we need to win. It's not about just changing the culture and saying, "OK, they're a better team," and stuff like that.

On the Clippers' Offseason and Blake Griffin as a Leader

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    BR: You guys made a lot of moves again to be better, in hopes of winning. Of all the offseason moves that the Clippers made, what was the one you were most excited about?

    CP: Yeah, the thing that got me most excited was me re-signing... I'm just kidding.

    I think the thing that got me most excited was probably the acquisition of J.J. Redick. I think what has a lot to do with that is probably our history. We played against each other in college. We used to get into it all the time, all the time in college. I think it shows the growth that you do as a person.

    My wife will vouch for this, that I was so excited I heard that we had J.J.

    BR: Besides you, do you feel there's another player, or players, who are really key to you guys reaching your potential next season?

    CP: I think the entire team, but I think Blake. Blake is a huge leader on our team. We've had conversations this summer and I think me and him both understand what not only each one of us may mean individually, but mean to our team collectively. So I think this will hopefully be a big year for the both of us.

    BR: Do you think there's anything that he could do to make it more known, like you said, that he's a leader on this team as well? Do think there's anything that he can do so that the rest of the sphere knows as well, so that they don't think it's just you?

    CP: That doesn't have to happen. Blake has been a leader for the past two years that I've been on the team. That doesn't have to happen to where everyone on the outside knows.

    I played with another great power forward in David West. Obviously, I'm very vocal. D-West led by the way he played, and just spoke at the right times. I think Blake does a great job knowing when and when not to do or say different things.

    You don't always have to be a leader and be as vocal as I am. I'm sure some people would love it if I didn't talk as much as I did.

On Improving and Being an 'Underdog'

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    BR: Is there anything that you're hoping to improve upon individually leading into next year?

    CP: No question, no question. There are a lot of different things I want to get better at. I'm doing the best that I can to work on them right now, and just continue to learn, continue to learn. That's why I'm excited about Doc and our coaching staff.

    BR: Now, when people say you're not the best point guard, or when another point guard in the league calls himself the best, do you have a response to that? Does it increase your drive or affect you in any way?

    CP: Nah. For me, I just try and have that inner drive. I've been an underdog my whole life, so I'd rather you not say that.

On the Clippers' Ceiling and 'Sacrifice'

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    BR: When all is told with you, Blake, Doc and the rest of the team, what is the ceiling for this Clippers faction leading into next year?

    CP: We'll determine that as we start to write this story. When it all starts in training camp, we're going to try to build something. I don't want to put anything out there for obvious reasons. It sounds pretty generic, because you know how everyone says the sky's the limit, but I think that's the truth.

    BR: What's it going to take to get you guys to the [NBA] Finals? Do you think there's anything you guys need to do as a group to make sure you get there?

    CP: Sacrifice.

    BR: You guys seem to have great chemistry. How do you view its importance in the NBA and your team specifically? How do you see chemistry playing a part in how far your team goes and how far teams in the NBA in general go?

    CP: Well, every team is different. Every team is different. Our team, we pay a lot of attention to team chemistry not because we have to, but because we want to.

    We're together with each other more than we're with our own families. We just try to be there for each other.

On the Rest of the NBA

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    BR: A lot of teams [in the Western Conference] improved. Was there any one move by an opposing team that you were particularly impressed with this summer?

    CP: No, no. I pay attention to it and stuff like that, but I've always been a firm believer in that, if we worry about us and control ourselves, then that's all we need to worry about.

    BR: Do you have any thoughts on Dwight Howard leaving Los Angeles and what he does for the Rockets next season?

    CP: No, not really. Other than I'm happy for him and he had to make a decision that was best for him.

    BR: Of the entire offseason, was there a move, whether it was made by you guys or another team, that surprised you, or shocked you?

    CP: No, I don't think so. Not anything going into my ninth season now. Nothing really surprises me. That's one thing that I learned early in my career.

    BR: Did you have any thoughts on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett going to Brooklyn?

    CP: I forgot about that. That was a big deal, so it's going to be interesting to see how that goes. Those two being attached with D-Will [Deron Williams] and Brook Lopez—they're definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with.

On the Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler Trade

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    BR: You guys traded Eric Bledsoe to the Suns, were you sad to see him go?

    CP: Very, very, very sad to see Bled go. Not only Bled, but Caron Butler. I had a close relationship with both of those guys. I talked to Bled's best friend a couple days ago—I was telling him how excited I am for Bled, that he's really going to get an opportunity now. I'm still trying to figure out when they [the Phoenix Suns] will really realize what they got in Bled and Caron.

    BR: What do you think Bledsoe specifically is going to do for that team now that he's over there? What type of impact is he going to have for them?

    CP: The energy and excitement that Bled brings every night is something that's invaluable. They're going to have a serious wakeup call. I'm sure it will start in practice, but as soon as it gets to the games, when he really turns it on, they're going to have some of those wild moments that we experienced.

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