"It's all right," he said of the thumb, though it probably isn't, at least not entirely.
Between the thumb, sore groin and ankle, Paul is taking a long time to get taped up before games these days.
"Feels like it," he said Thursday, "but I'm going to get through it, I guarantee you that."
Paul will push through it because that's his nature and because he knows the Clippers need him to lead them in perseverance even as he leads the
Rivers joked that during games it's often tough to get Paul off the floor, "which is good," but that Paul might not feel quite so fine the next day in practice. Clearly, Rivers is keeping an eye on him.
"I worry sometimes that he's not forthright in his injuries, so you have to be careful with him," Rivers said. "I'm still learning the guys and he's one of those guys that you've just got to watch to make sure he's telling you the truth.
"You just worry about him because he plays a very physical guard game. He's not a finesse guard. He's a tough, physical guard. But he's not that big, and so you do worry about him."
Rivers' biggest worry?
"His hands," Rivers said. "It's funny. I worry about his hands more than anything, which haven't been hurt. But he's a reacher.… I look at him and worry about his hands, because without those you're not very good. He's always in there and reaching so you have some concern."
Maybe Paul hasn't been quite so forthright about the thumb. Or maybe he's simply determined to manage whatever discomfort he feels because that's what leaders do when they're most needed.
Jamal Crawford paid tribute to Paul's resolve by invoking some heavy hitters, including
"He's tough," Crawford said of Paul. "I guess in our game we all make comparisons and I don't want to jump too far but I think he's this generation's Isiah Thomas when it comes to toughness and leadership and doing whatever it takes to win, and moxie in that point guard position. There are so many similarities there.
"Isiah was one of a kind. Just like Kobe and MJ, I think there's not another MJ, but for this generation, Kobe is the closest we'll see. And I feel like that with CP and Isiah as well."
Paul was flattered by the comparison to Thomas.
"Isiah's one of the best to ever play and Isiah won a championship, so I'll take that one," he said.
Thomas actually won two championships, in 1988-89 and 1989-90. Paul hasn't gotten past the second round of the playoffs, nor have the Clippers since the franchise moved to the West Coast.
This season might be his and the Clippers' best shot to reach the promised land of the conference final — or beyond. They were 12-6 while his shoulder healed, a testament to their depth. And they made an impressive statement by reeling off 11 straight wins — before losing Monday at Denver — and regaining their grip on home-court advantage in the first round, which they were in danger of letting slip away.
"No time like the present," Paul said. "We know what we have, you know what I mean? I think at times, in years past, you may question this or question that. I think right now we know who we are. We know what type of team we are and we've just got to be that.
"We're a team, we have our principles. We don't fight. We're going to defend every night. Never settle for less."
Thumbs up to that, taped or otherwise.