Chris Paul is quickly becoming the go-to lifeguard for drowning NBA entities. Two years ago, he arrived in Los Angeles as the force expected to save the league’s most moribund franchise from self-inflicted injuries. The Clippers had been gushing losses for over three decades under Donald Sterling’s leadership. In two seasons, CP3 has not only stopped the bleeding, he transformed the Clippers into a thriving Lob City and has attracted superstar talent.
Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher’s back-and-forth was an unfortunate saga that the player’s association would rather forget. The escalation between Hunter and Fisher became a cancer that ate away progress at a crucial moment. Although, the Players Association bounced Hunter out due to misappropriation of funds, Fisher became collateral damage.
The NBPA needed life, scrambled for a doctor in the house and drafted CP3 into service. Why choose the nurse to apply a tourniquet, when a superstar like CP3 could galvanize the union and save the entire limb in one fell swoop?
The NBPA is looking to present a more transparent operation and it needed a leader who could get the players’ attention. Roger Mason Jr. was respected, but having an NBA free agent leading the union would have been a problem.
CP3’s election to the NBAPA’s leadership role also speaks to lingering animosity or a lack of respect towards LeBron James. Earlier this month when King James threw his crown into the ring, he was met with staunch opposition despite his active role in the removal of Hunter. Mainly from vice president Jerry Stackhouse.
Stackhouse, who’s renowned for throwing real-life haymakers, lobbed a few verbal jabs towards James for his “kick in the stomach comments” and then proceeded to endorse Paul in a one-on-one interview with CBS’ Ken Berger.
"I don't think he's had any dialogue with anybody since the All-Star break, but it is what it is," Stackhouse said. "To make that statement about where we are as a union right now, he was misinformed."
"I would've liked [James] to come to the meeting next week and hear it and then voice his opinion," Stackhouse said.
"I think Chris understands the type of strength that comes about with it," Stackhouse said. "With the superstars in our league — LeBron, Chris Paul — we want all those guys to be a part of the union and be a voice. … But that's a tall task to ask one of our marquee, superstar guys."
With Stack’s endorsement, CP3 rode a wave of support to the top. Now it’s his job to prove James wrong.
The Hunter-Fisher melodrama is a convoluted one that involved Fisher bowing to the league’s demands to set himself up for a post-career switch to the league office. Meanwhile, Hunter kept the union in the dark about his clandestine activities and the media was too apathetic towards the mundane intricacies of the powerful union’s inner-workings.
According to leading voices within the NBPA, the CP3 era will supposedly involve getting players more involved with union activities rather than waiting until the next collective bargaining agreement. With a superstar like CP3 in charge, the hiring of Hunter’s replacement should garner a bit more interest and goes in lockstep with the new agenda.
CP3’s already reversed the Clippers fortunes. After the media and union wandered in the dark during the battle between Fisher and Hunter, the illuminating spotlight CP3 will cast behind the scenes will be a game changer. It’s on Paul to spin his magic again.