Yesterday, Barry Petchesky at Deadspin wondered why Chris Paul’s public and prolonged demand to be traded from the New Orleans Hornets was not getting the same amount of “outrage” as LeBron James’ Decision/Hank Scorpio-esque unveiling in Miami. There is a very simple reason: While Chris Paul’s gambit is a total dick move, it is also totally lame.
The NBA free agent frenzy is, for all intents and purposes, over (the fact that Tracy McGrady is the most coveted remaining free agent would indicate so). The weeping and gnashing of teeth over L’Affaire LeBron has subsided, at least until the basketball season begins anew. With football training camps opening within the next week, NFL talk is starting to dominate the sports talk-o-sphere (C).
In other words, there’s no damn reason at all to be hearing from Mr. Paul. But clearly, he saw what LeBron did and stomped his feet and thought, “I shall not be out-douched!”
You could argue that what Chris Paul did was worse than what LeBron did. After all, LeBron’s free agency was anticipated by every human being on the planet for years (at least that’s what ESPN says). As crappily as he handled the whole thing, everyone and his mom (especially your mom) knew he might leave Cleveland. Paul’s demands to be traded, on the other hand, came out of nowhere, and were seemingly motivated by little more than LeBron’s histrionics.
However, while LeBron certainly deserves scorn, Paul only deserves laughter. Because what LeBron did, when he did it and how he did it, was a supremely shitty thing to do. But what Paul idid is just funny.
Coming on the heels of LeBron’s move, Paul’s machinations had the feeling of a shameless attempt to exploit a fad that’s already passed. It’s like releasing a third or fourth lambada movie in 1990. Or rushing into the studio to record a swing album in 2001. Or pretty much the entire Golan-Globus filmography. If LeBron is Rambo, then Paul is Cobra.
The overall lameness of Paul’s move is accentuated by the fact that he didn’t have a leg to stand on. The Hornets had neither the incentive nor the imperative to trade him. Paul couldn’t opt out of his contract. Basically, he had zero power in this situation, but operated as if he was in total control. Depending on your perspective, that either takes an enormous amount of balls or an amazing lack of brains.
Paul seems to realize this now; on Monday, he had meetings with the Hornets, and made statements afterward that indicated he was throwing in the towel. Because when it comes to the offseason, no one wants to be the free agent equivalent of Delta Force 3 or Death Wish 5.