Going into New Orleans game tonight against Memphis, Chris Paul has tallied at least one steal in 104 consecutive games. With a steal tonight he will tie Alvin Robertson for the NBA record for games with a steal.
Sounds like a big deal, right?
Sure it is, but Sunday afternoon Paul was more worried about the one steal that he didn’t get credit for. When he was asked if he remembered the first one on April 13th, 2007, he tried to shrug it off but quickly confessed he thought more about the steal he didn’t get credit for.
“I’m going to tell you the truth,” Paul said while leaning against his locker and grinning. “Who was the game before that I didn’t get a steal again? Was it Dallas? Because I got a steal that game. We can watch the tape, I know I got a steal that game.”
After the chuckles subsided from the media huddled around Paul’s locker, the media returned to hanging on his every word. The same reporter then followed up by asking if he’s like a golfer and can remember each one.
“Yeah, some of them,” Paul admitted. “This will probably be the one I’ll remember the most because I didn’t expect to get one. Over the course of the game there’s so much going on. When it’s close like that you’re just trying to get the win.”
While Paul normally shrugs off personal accolades – last season whenever a reporter would ask him his thoughts on being named the MVP he deflected the attention back to the success his team was enjoying – yesterday he admitted he does think about the steals record.
“When it was 80-something (games) I didn’t think about it. But I’d be lying if it’s not something I think about a little bit right now. One thing I’m not going to do is I’m not going to take away from my team on the defensive end. The steals come just from being in the right place at the right time.”
There are different kinds of steal artists in the NBA; some that depend on passing lanes, timing and anticipation, while others like to take chances.
Luckily for Byron Scott’s sanity, Paul relies on his anticipation and being in the right place.
“Alvin (Robertson) was a gambler,” New Orleans Hornets head coach Scott explained to the media while relaxing in a leather couch prior to a game against Toronto.“He would break down the defensive scheme of whatever they were trying to do and he would take chances. He would end up getting a lot of steals off anticipation because he had great anticipation. I think that’s the key to being where those two guys are; the anticipation of where that next pass was going. Both of those guys had an uncanny ability to understand the game and understand where it’s going next. Chris gets a lot of his (steals) from everywhere. He doesn’t get a lot of his on the ball, he gets a lot of his off the ball when guys are driving to the rim and he anticipates the next pass. With bigs he anticipates them putting it on the floor. His anticipation that way is just unbelievable.”
After a brief pause, Scott was struck with another fond memory of Paul’s defensive prowess he felt compelled to share with the media.
“I remember his second year he had an uncanny ability to throw the ball away and then he would steal it right back. He would throw it away, the (opposing) point guard might get it and then he would steal it right back. I was amazed because you’re not supposed to be able to do that.”
There are a lot of things on and off the basketball court Paul shouldn’t be able to do.
The diminutive point guard shouldn’t have been an MVP candidate in just his third season into his NBA career.
Paul shouldn’t be able to take a franchise that averaged 35 wins over the past five season to winning a franchise best 56 games in just his third season in the NBA.
He shouldn’t be able to almost single-handily save professional basketball in New Orleans.
And he shouldn’t be setting records like this so early in his career.
But hey, this is all par for the course for growing legend that is Chris Paul.
Photo Credit: ICON Sports Media