NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The team bears his moniker, or at least his nickname. It’s uniforms are adorned with his custom Nike sub-branded logo, and he has spoken about how it fulfills his desire to give back.
Despite all those superficial factors, some question whether NBA superstar Chris Paul is emotionally or physically involved in his Team CP3 Nike EYBL program.
In fact, all one needs to know about Paul’s commitment to Team CP3 can be gleaned from his recent travel schedule.
“After showing up at DeAndre Jordan’s house, he got back on a plane at midnight (1 a.m. EST),” Team CP3 head coach Jon Adams said. “He landed in Georgia at about 3 a.m. and he was back on the court with our U-14 team at a middle school before 9 a.m.”
That sure sounds like a man committed to his purpose.
In truth, there are valid reasons for some questions. Paul’s in-season schedule keeps him from attending most of the Nike EYBL tournaments, which means he is largely absent from its “regular season” games. To be fair, other NBA players who sponsor teams also are in the same situation. He parachutes in to help coach at the Peach Jam, but refuses to speak to the press after games, which can give off an atmosphere of aloofness.
Yet those criticisms are too superficial themselves. There’s a valid reason for any of those alleged shortcomings, and a host of anecdotes that speak to just how committed Paul is to his budding youth basketball program.
The reason for his absence during the pre-Peach Jam tournaments is obvious. It would be ridiculous to expect him to parachute to help coach while the Clippers were coming down the stretch in the regular season or fighting through the playoffs.
As for eschewing the media, Paul’s family, friends and colleagues stress that he’s adamant that Team CP3’s attention not be about him. To that end, as he is mobbed by fans whenever he tries to rush off the court following games, he patiently takes dozens upon dozens of selfies and gives handshakes. If he intentionally bucks the media, he certainly doesn’t ignore his fans.
“It’s important to him,” Adams said. “He may not be able to be at most of the games, but he has his brother involved, his parents are both involved. All of them usually go to every single tournament.
“And he finds ways to work with the players and talk to them individually. He FaceTimes most of them during the season to keep up on how they’re doing, what they need and want to improve. This is really important for him.”
In addition to his use of the most modern of Apple technology, Paul is also a very active voice on the sideline at the circuit-ending Peach Jam, barking out advice to players during the games, diagramming plays during halftimes and some timeouts and even giving pep talks and advice before individual contests.
Case in point: His sage advice before Team CP3’s matchup with Arkansas Wings Elite — don’t try to stop Malik Monk, just try to slow him down — played out to perfection as Team CP3 cruised in a virtual elimination game.
His voice will have to grow louder yet as Team CP3 moves within two victories of a Nike EYBL title. That certainly won’t bother Paul, who will be back on the sideline Sunday.
“He always wants to win, and he wants to help the kids improve,” Adams said. “It’s exciting for the players to work with Chris, and he wants to help whenever he can.”