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Gazzolo Column: Chris Paul and most of NBA are 'all in' it for themselves

Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 2:49 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

With three words sent out on his Twitter account, Chris Paul told the world of his intentions.

“I’m all in,” Paul tweeted, and with that ended all doubts about who he would dribble his next basketball for.

Paul made sure that Clipper Nation could relax, if there is such a thing as Clipper Nation.

Seems more likely Clipper Village can now relax.

Please excuse the laughter being heard from Bourbon Street, not that laughter on Bourbon Street is anything new. New Orleans basketball fans have heard this before from Paul.

It wasn’t that long ago that Paul told the then-Hornets faithful the same thing. He was all in when it came to bringing a winner to New Orleans.

He even had the franchise in the playoffs and looking like a future contender. Then everything went bad.

The team was taken over by the league and Paul was considered a part of the club’s past not future.

That is mainly because he let all who cared know he was no longer all in in Louisiana.

So the club decided to ship Paul to Los Angeles.

A good deal for all was set when Paul was traded to the Lakers and a lot of talent was headed back to Orleans.

Then, the league voided its own trade, leaving Paul angry and the Hornets holding the bag.

Hard to believe the league would veto a trade it had made, but that’s what happens when a few big-name owners didn’t want the Lakers to get more talent.

Nobody seemed to care later when they got Dwight Howard, or maybe those owners knew something more about Howard that the rest of us didn’t until recently.

Still, the Hornets were stuck. They had to trade Paul and had to trade him fast. The best offer was changed to the next offer and the Clippers quickly were on the clock.

Paul got his wish and was sent to Los Angeles, but he didn’t get his way because he was now a Clipper, not a Laker.

As for the former team known as the Hornets, they traded one unhappy young star guard for another, getting Eric Gordon in return for Paul. Now Gordon talks about greener pastures and his days in Orleans seem numbered.

As for Paul, he is going to re-sign with the Clippers so he must be “all in.”

That means the player got what he wished with a Los Angeles lifestyle fit for a basketball superstar and New Orleans fans got a Big Easy-style hangover.

It did get a new name for its team, but who really cares about that?

Paul himself has proven to be just the latest basketball superstar to get his way through pressure.

After the Clippers flamed out in the first round of the playoffs, Paul let it be known he had options because he was about to become a free agent. He suggested, or at least people around him suggested, that he was more than willing to walk if things in Los Angeles were not done right.

They even dangled a move to Atlanta with Howard just for show.

The right way was, of course, the way Paul wanted it, but he just didn’t want anybody to know this. So he told the world it didn’t matter who the Clippers coach was or what direction the team might be going in.

Yet, Vinny Del Negro was fired after leading the Clippers to the most wins in franchise history and Doc Rivers came running out of Boston like the town was on fire.

And Paul is happy this somehow all worked out, so he will remain a Clipper. He’s “all in” remember.

When asked if the players were running the team, Clippers owner Donald Sterling told the L.A. Times, “This is a players’ league, and, unfortunately, if you want to win you have to make the players happy.”

Now Chris Paul if finally happy, again.

Or, at least he is “all in.”

This is the case throughout the NBA but in San Antonio, where clearly one man runs the show and he doesn’t wear sneakers and shorts.

Gregg Popovich is the man in charge of the Spurs and they win like no other team in the league.

Maybe this is changing in basketball.

The Lakers held firm on head coach Mike D’Antoni and are likely to lose Howard in the process. Of course, alpha dog Kobe Bryant remains, so who knows who is running the Lakers show these days?

All Paul did was use his power to make the best situation for himself. This has never been new to the NBA.

Magic Johnson did it early in his Lakers career, just to name one of the game’s biggest stars and his power. Johnson got a coaching change and Pat Riley became a legend.

Maybe the same will happen for the Clippers, but Rivers is already a star coach.

Meanwhile, the former Hornets are still picking up their pieces just a couple years after Paul promised them he was all in in New Orleans.

Fact is, Chis Paul and most of the NBA are all in it for themselves.

New Orleans fans found that out the hard way.

In the end, it is just a case of Paul playing the game, and learning from some of the league’s elite just how this game is won.

• • •

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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