Clippers' Chris Paul gives an assist to a role model, Isiah Thomas

Clippers' Chris Paul gives an assist to a role model, Isiah Thomas
Clippers point guard Chris Paul, right, tries to drive around Detroit Pistons guard Will Bynum during the Clippers' win Saturday at Staples Center. Paul recorded his 6,000th career assist in the victory. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

To hear Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul tell it, he didn't model his game after Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas.

But Paul admitted that Thomas is someone that he "watched and admired."


Paul was asked about Thomas because he had just put on a show Saturday night with Thomas sitting courtside as the Clippers defeated the Detroit Pistons, the team Thomas won back-to-back NBA championships with in 1989 and '90.

Paul had 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting, with 15 assists, six steals and four rebounds.

He became the seventh player in NBA history to record at least 6,000 assists before the end of his ninth season. Paul now has 6,011 assists in his career.

"I didn't even know I had 6,000 [Saturday] night," he said. "I think . . . I'm just so focused on winning games and not individual achievements."

During the game, Paul went over to shake hands with Thomas, a show of respect.

"Isiah is one of the greatest, one of the best to ever play the game," Paul said. "I think that fierceness that he played with, that edge . . . I'm not as quick or fast as he ever was, or as crafty. I always have this image in my head of Isiah Thomas. He was sort of in a double team and he kept doing these little cross-overs. . . . Yeah, he was unreal."

Paul has been compared to Thomas for a variety or reasons.

Paul is 6 feet, Thomas is 6 feet 1.

Paul is a tough, hard-nosed player who doesn't back down. So was Thomas.

Paul is the leader of the Clippers. Thomas led the "Bad Boys" of Detroit.

Paul said it was an "a honor, a privilege" to be compared to Thomas. But there is one big difference so far.

"Zeke [Thomas] won championships, though," Paul said. "I think the thing that I've always admired the most about him and guys like Allen Iverson was how they were like ironmen."

Clippers guard Jamal Crawford says Paul and Thomas are similar in many ways.

"I just think sometime every generation you see players that are similar," Crawford said. "Like I've said, there's only one Michael Jordan, but I think Kobe [Bryant] is the closest player we'll ever see to Jordan.


"I think there's only one Isiah Thomas. But for this generation, I think Chris is the closet player that we'll see to him. I think his moxie, his toughness, his leadership, how he can control a game, those are all the things that Isiah used to do."

Crawford OK

Crawford had missed eight of the last nine games because of a strained left calf, but he returned Saturday night. Crawford had nine points on four-for-13 shooting; he was one for six from three-point range.

"I was a little rusty," Crawford said. "Obviously I missed almost a month, but it was just good to be back out there."