Chris Paul belittled DeAndre Jordan. He got in his Clippers teammate’s face. He was one of the reasons the free agent Jordan briefly committed to the Dallas Mavericks this summer before changing his mind and remaining a Clipper.
None of the hits to Paul’s reputation have left much of a mark, perhaps because they missed their target entirely.
“Fortunately, I don’t read all that stuff, to tell you the truth,” Paul said Tuesday of reports painting him as a difficult teammate. “I actually spent a lot of time with my family and stuff like that. I went on vacation, I was in Augusta with my AAU kids, I had to go to a funeral, I had a camp in San Diego. Luckily, I stayed busy.”
That schedule, which also included a stop in Johannesburg for an exhibition game involving NBA players, has brought Paul and Clippers teammates Blake Griffin and Jordan to the campus of Nevada Las Vegas this week for Team USA’s minicamp as it begins its preparations for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Paul said people questioning what can be a brusque leadership style would have angered him earlier in his career but not now, not after the two Olympic gold medals and the eight All-Star appearances in his 10 seasons.
“I’m so comfortable in my skin — I’ve got a beautiful wife, two beautiful kids, an amazing family — and people who know me, know me, you know what I mean?” said Paul, who turned 30 in May. “So people are going to say what they’re going to say and you can’t control it. But actually, nah, I wasn’t mad … when all that stuff was going on.”
Jordan said the alleged rift between himself and Paul has brought the teammates closer after they compared notes about what they had told other people.
“We went through a lot of stuff this summer, man,” Jordan said. “Things that people said that I said about him, things that people said he said about me, which, none of them were true because we talked about it.”
Paul and Jordan aired all grievances — real and imagined — during the now-legendary day last month when a Clippers contingent scurried to Jordan’s Houston hometown to get him to stay with the team after he had expressed second thoughts about his commitment to the Mavericks.
Paul said the conversation lasted 10 or 15 minutes. There was no need for it to go any longer.
“The things that were said in there were things that probably needed to be said and we moved on,” Paul said. “Me and D.J. are actually really close. We talk all the time.”
Paul said his wife accompanied him to Jordan’s house after they re-routed their itinerary to Houston from a vacation in the Bahamas. As for the famed banana boat emoji that appeared on Paul’s Twitter account, he said Clippers teammate J.J. Redick might have commandeered his phone. Or not.
“It’s such a blur, man, I don’t know,” Paul said before referencing a popular ESPN documentary series. “Maybe it will be a ’30 for 30' one year.”
After Jordan re-signed with the Clippers for four years and $87.6 million, Paul posted on Instagram a picture of himself embracing Jordan with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe that a friend had passed along a few days earlier: “Believe only half of what you see, and nothing that you hear.”
Jordan seemingly has full confidence in Paul, as evidenced by his decision to continue playing alongside him.
“Chris has been a great teammate to me,” Jordan said. “Teammates bump heads and argue, but it’s for the greater goal of the situation and for what you want to do. I feel like Chris didn’t say anything [out of line], I didn’t say anything [out of line], so we took hits, but we know what our relationship is like and what it’s about.”