Chris Paul doesn’t focus on the what ifs
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND – The what-might-have-beens don’t enter Chris Paul’s mind anymore.
As his Clippers prepare for the latest Los Angeles turf war on Friday night at Staples Center against the Lakers team to which he was almost traded back in December of 2011, the point guard who has transformed one of the worst organizations in professional sports into a legitimate title contender wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Never, ever – ever, ever,” he told USA TODAY Sports emphatically on Wednesday night when asked how often he wonders what life with the Lakers might have been like before commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal with New Orleans back then for those infamous “basketball reasons.” “
And why would he?
Even with the Clippers’ losses at Denver and Golden State that followed their franchise-record 17-game winning streak, they have the league’s second-best record (25-8) and are nine games ahead of this Lakers team that so many expected to dominate this season. And while Kobe Bryant responded to the latest Lakers loss by declaring that age was to blame for their woes – “We’re old as (expletive),” he told reporters after they fell to Philadelphia on Tuesday night – Paul has continued this improbable push to turn the Clippers into champions.
“You can’t back up any talk in January or December or nothing like that,” Paul said of the matchup with the Lakers.
The game itself will come with some consequence, though, even if Clippers forward Blake Griffin said it was “just like any other game.” The Clippers, who beat the Lakers without Steve Nash on Nov. 2, don’t want to lose a third game in a row. The Lakers, whose fans so often point to the title count between the two organizations (16 to zero) as their ultimate defense, need a win like this to keep momentum moving forward after winning six of their last eight games.
“It’s a big deal for us,” said reserve small forward Lamar Odom, the longtime Laker who was traded to the Clippers during the summer. “What’s most fun is to be here and to really see the change in (expectations), as far people … [For more on Chris Paul doesn't focus on the what ifs, click here.]