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Chris Paul may be latest player to pass on mediocrity…

July 24, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Sports, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) If you understand just one thing about the uniting of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh in Miami, know that it’s not something you are going to see every summer, not by a long shot.

Hope you enjoyed all of the suspense of “The Decision,” the hour-long prime-time show concocted by James’ management and ESPN, in which the title-less, seven-year vet announced that he has decided to take his talents to South Beach, because there isn’t going to be anything remotely close to this any time soon.

For starters, look for the NBA owners to lock out the players next summer after the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and in all likelihood expect a long and protracted delay to the upcoming season.

Say what you want to about the appalling, petulant behavior of Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert after he directed his inexcusable vitriol at James after he opted to earn his money income-tax free in South Florida — what good, tax-hating Republican wouldn’t have made the same decision?

But if you think the owners won’t be twice as gangster as they go after things like guaranteed contracts and reduced payouts even to superstars, well, you just don’t understand the engine that drives the NBA.

Carmelo Anthony will be the most coveted free agent next summer, but after that there is a precipitous falloff in talent. Injury prone Yao Ming has to show that he’s healthy after sitting out all of last season, and Jamal Crawford and Tony Parker, well, you get the picture.

This is why Chris Paul’s wanting to cut ties in New Orleans despite having two years left on his contract will be the hottest story to follow in the off-season.

At Anthony’s recent wedding, Paul reportedly joked about the possibility of joining Anthony and new Knick Amar’e Stoudemire in New York to form another Big Three to battle Miami over the coming years. Along with New York, it has been reported that Paul would be interested in playing for Dallas, Orlando and the Los Angeles Lakers because he does not feel New Orleans is committed to building a championship team.

Paul should do everything in his power to make this happen, especially if it means winding up in Los Angeles or Orlando. Paul, taken with the fourth overall pick in 2005, has been an exemplary citizen in the Big Easy. But unlike James, he can’t be portrayed as a native son turning his back on his hometown which, in reality, is a huge croc anyway.

Paul doesn’t have any true ties to New Orleans. James, from Akron, was vilified for leaving his “hometown” of Cleveland. But really, only a true sucker buys into this way of thinking. How many successful people have left their hometown and gone on to achieve magnanimously in other places? The same will happen for James, a hall-of-famer even if he never plays another game in the NBA.

James gave Cleveland every opportunity to build a team around him and the Cavs went out and put together teams that were built for the regular season but unable to give James the support he needed to win the Eastern Conference.

Paul, arguably the best point guard in the league, no doubt feels the same way. He envisions himself perhaps dishing off to Kobe Bryant on the break or feeding Dwight Howard perfectly in the post. And playing alongside Anthony and Stoudemire in NYC wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.

And please don’t tell me that he owes it to New Orleans to stay because of the hardships of Katrina. Another croc. Only a fool believes that the presence of an athlete in a municipality can salve the truly hurtful wounds left by something as catastrophic as the flood. And if you do foolishly buy into this, the Saints delivered on that last February.

If you are tired of seeing fraudulent teams like Denver and Atlanta in the playoffs and would prefer to see the best possible basketball played in the early summer, you have to hope that Paul spurns the Hornets and is traded, possibly over the summer and no later than the trading deadline, to one of the teams on his list.

It doesn’t matter what Charles Barkley says about the LeBron Jameses of the world not being Michael Jordan — who the hell is or was? — especially when Barkley, who still keeps a residence in Philly, demanded to be traded after it became clear that he would never win a title there.

Paul should get out of New Orleans as soon as possible, and the Hornets should grant him his wish if they are not going to be seriously committed to winning, which Paul apparently doesn’t believe they are. In the long run it’s better for him — to thine own self be true — and it’s better for a league that is headed for an ugly labor dispute in 2011.

Written By John Mitchell

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