Christopher Emmanuel Paul Sr. (born May 6, 1985) is an American professional basketball point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul was born and raised in North Carolina. Despite only playing two varsity basketball seasons in high school, he was a McDonald's All-American and accepted a scholarship with nearby Wake Forest University. After his sophomore year with the Demon Deacons, he declared for the draft. Since being selected 4th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets, Paul has been a NBA Rookie of the Year (2006), a five-time All-Star, and a multiple All-NBA and All-Defensive team honoree. He led the Hornets to the second round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs. He has also won an Olympic Gold Medal with the United States national basketball team.
Off the court, Paul has also achieved success in the sport of bowling and is a sponsored spokesperson for the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). He has participated in numerous celebrity and youth bowling events as the head of the CP3 Foundation to benefit programs in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, and charities in Winston-Salem.
Paul attended Wake Forest University and played for the Demon Deacons for two seasons, leading the school to two NCAA Tournaments, including one Sweet Sixteen appearance. In Paul's freshman year, he started and made an immediate impact. He was named the ACC Rookie of the Year, Third Team All-ACC, an All-American Honorable Mention, and National Freshman of the Year by several publications as he averaged 14.8 points and 5.9 assists a game and helped the Demon Deacons reach the Sweet Sixteen of the 2004 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament before losing to St. Joseph's. Paul also broke five Wake Forest freshman records, three-point percentage, free throws, free throw percentage, assists and steals.
Paul also earned ACC All-Defensive Team honors during his time at Wake and was among the Consensus First Team All-Americans in his sophomore year. He was also a named to the 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team with a 3.21 Grade point average as a third-term selection. During the ACC post season tournament, Paul was suspended one game for punching NC State guard Julius Hodge in the groin.  By the time he declared for the 2005 NBA Draft as a sophomore, he had finished near the top of almost every offensive category at Wake Forest.
After his sophomore year, Paul declared for the 2005 NBA Draft. The Demon Deacons went 48–16 (.750) in games Chris Paul played in. Paul was ranked second among Wake Forest's all-time career leaders for 3-point shooting percentage (.469), and 7th in assists and steals.
New Orleans Hornets
2005–06: Rookie stardom
Paul speaking with then-coach Byron Scott.
Paul was selected fourth overall by the New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft. Due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina that summer to the city of New Orleans, Paul did not play his first full season in New Orleans. Instead, the team played in various arenas and relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Hornets only played three games in New Orleans Arena.
Paul led all rookies in points, assists, steals, and minutes, earning him the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Paul was a near-unanimous winner for the award, but one voter (Ron Boone, television analyst for the Utah Jazz) gave Deron Williams his vote instead of Paul. This, along with the fact that both were taken back to back in the draft and play the same position, has led to an on-court rivalry between Paul and Williams. Their rivalry began on December 1, 2004 when Paul led his No. 1-ranked Wake Forest into Champaign to face Williams' Illini. Illinois thrashed the Demon Deacons 91–73 and took the top spot from there into their run to the 2005 NCAA Championship Game. Williams had 8 points and 11 assists while Paul was held to 10 points.
Paul finished the 2005–06 season averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, and 5.1 rebounds. He was also the only unanimous selection to the 2005–06 NBA All Rookie First Team and was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month every month in the 2005–06 season. After the season, Paul won the ESPY Award for Best Breakthrough Athlete. He recorded his first triple-double on April 2, 2006 against the Toronto Raptors with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists.
Paul followed up his impressive rookie campaign with a solid sophomore season. He improved his scoring average to 17.3 points, and improved his assists average with 8.9 per game. He averaged 4.4 rebounds per game. Paul's season was riddled with injuries though, as he was limited to playing in only 64 games.
Paul was not named an All-Star in 2007, but he was named to replace Steve Nash in the 2007 PlayStation Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend. He played in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and dished out 17 assists and had 9 steals, both T-Mobile Rookie Challenge records. When interviewed during the Rookie Challenge, Paul vowed that he would be an All-Star next season, as the All-Star Game would be held in New Orleans.
Paul in a game against Boston
The 2007–08 season brought the full return of the Hornets to the city of New Orleans. Emerging as a true superstar, Paul averaged 21.1 points and 4 rebounds, and led the NBA in steals with 2.71 per game and assists with 11.6 per game. He was selected by NBA coaches to play in the 2008 NBA All-Star Game which was hosted by the city of New Orleans, thereby fulfilling his vow from the previous season. Paul's teammate David West was named as an All-Star reserve and Hornets coach Byron Scott coached the Western Conference All-Stars. During All-Star Weekend, Paul participated again in the 2008 All-Star PlayStation Skills Challenge winning the first round but losing in the final round to Deron Williams. Paul sparked a 4th quarter comeback for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game, but the East held on to win 134–128. He finished the game with 16 points, 14 assists and 5 steals.
Paul continued his stellar play following the All Star game, leading the New Orleans Hornets to one of the best records in the West. After a 37 point, 13 assist, and 3 steal performance by Paul against the Chicago Bulls on March 17, 2008, Paul led a 4th quarter comeback win, the Hornets ascended to the top of the standings in the Western Conference. On April 4, 2008, Chris Paul helped the Hornets clinch a playoff spot for the first time since the 2003–04 season. The Hornets ultimately finished the season with a 56–26 record, the best record in team history, and finished #2 overall in the NBA Western Conference standings. Paul ended the season leading the NBA with 11.6 assists and 2.71 steals per game, and registered a steal in all 80 games he played in.
In Paul's first NBA playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks, he scored 35 points, with 24 coming in the second half, along with 10 assists and 4 steals. In Game 2, he scored 32 points and set a franchise playoff-record 17 assists, leading the Hornets to a 127–103 victory to go 2–0 against Dallas. After splitting Games 3 and 4 in Dallas, the Hornets eliminated the Mavericks, 4–1, in Game 5 for their first ever playoff series victory behind a 24 point, 11 rebound, and 15 assist performance from Paul.
He finished second in MVP voting, behind Kobe Bryant, who beat him with a margin of 306 votes. He was selected for the All-NBA First Team, 3 votes shy of a unanimous choice.
Paul reached an agreement on a three-year extension with the Hornets with a player option with a fourth year, with a total value of $68 million.
For the second season in a row Paul finished the season as the league leader in assists and steals. He also scored a career best 22.8 points per game on a career best percentage of 50.3%. Paul participated in his second NBA All Star Game starting for the Western Conference All Stars. On December 17, 2008, against the San Antonio Spurs, Paul broke Alvin Robertson's 22-year-old NBA record by registering at least one steal in 106 consecutive games. The new record reached 108 consecutive games before ending on Christmas Day against the Orlando Magic. On December 26, Paul collected 27 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists and seven steals against the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming the only player in NBA history to reach those statistical numbers in an NBA game.
After the season, Paul was selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team first team, and the All-NBA second team. He was also fifth in the 2009 MVP voting, receiving two first place votes and a total of 192 points.
After a 3–6 start to the season, the New Orleans Hornets fired Scott on November 12 and replaced him with general manager Jeff Bower, who has been involved with the franchise since 1995. Paul stirred controversy by announcing his displeasure with the move and thought the team management should have "consulted with me and asked how I felt before it happened", but clarified that he didn't expect to be asked to give approval. The next day, Paul suffered a left ankle sprain against the Portland Trail Blazers that resulted in eight missed games as the Hornets went 4–4. Once Paul returned on December 9, New Orleans won 18 of their next 28 games, including a six-game winning streak. He earned his third All-Star appearance as a reserve guard, finishing third with 1,055,789 votes behind Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. In early February, an MRI revealed a torn meniscus in Paul's left knee after it was tweaked in two consecutive games in late January. On February 4, he underwent arthroscopic surgery performed by renowned sports physician James Andrew in Florida. Sidelined for nearly eight weeks, Paul, who was averaging 20.4 points and an NBA-best 11.2 assists, missed 25 Hornets games and the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, where his reserve spot was filled by Denver Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups. On March 22, Paul returned to action since January 29 against the Chicago Bulls, and was inserted in the starting lineup for the game against the Dallas Mavericks, moving Darren Collison out of the starting lineup, who started at point guard during Paul's absence.
The 2010–11 season was another All-Star selection season for Paul, making it his 4th consecutive. On March 6, 2011 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul collided with Cavalier player Ramon Sessions and had to be carried off by stretcher after lying motionless on the ground. He missed 2 straight games. In his return on March 12, 2011 against the Sacramento Kings, he scored a season high 33 points, and had 15 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 steals in the Hornets' 37th win of the season.
The Hornets finished the year with 46 wins to qualify as the seventh seed in the playoffs, where they would meet the defending two-time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. Paul had a historic performance in the series, averaging 22 points on 54.5 percent shooting, 11.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 6.7 rebounds per game, though the Hornets fell to the heavily favored Lakers in six games. Notable performances from Paul included a game 1 win in LA, where he had 33 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds and 4 steals, and a game 4 win in New Orleans, where Paul had 27 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds and 2 steals.
Once the NBA resumed operations after the 2011 lockout, the Hornets, now owned by the NBA after acquiring the financially strapped team from George Shinn during the 2010–11 season, actively pursued trading Paul. He would be eligible to opt-out of his contract and sign elsewhere following the 2011–12 season. As a result, the Hornets did not want to risk losing Paul without getting equitable compensation in return. On the afternoon of December 8, 2011, the day before the 2011 NBA lockout ended and players could move between teams, the Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets agreed to a trade that would send Paul to the Lakers. That night, after other team owners voiced their opposition, league commissioner David Stern nullified the trade. Following a week of contentious trade talks with various teams, Paul was eventually traded to Los Angeles, but this time, to the Clippers rather than the Lakers.
Los Angeles Clippers
Paul leads the Clippers onto the floor against the Sacramento Kings in 2012
On December 8, 2011, the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets agreed to a trade that would send Paul to Los Angeles. NBA commissioner David Stern nullified the trade, saying the Hornets were better off keeping Paul than accepting the terms of the deal. The league had acquired the Hornets from former owner George Shinn, and the commissioner's office has final authority over all management decisions. The three teams involved in the trade attempted to lobby the league to reverse its ruling as well as reconstruct the deal that would satisfy the league, only to met by resistance from the league who wants the Hornets to receive more youth and draft picks. Later, the Lakers pulled out of the trade talk. On December 12, the Hornets and the Los Angeles Clippers agreed to a trade that sent Paul to Los Angeles for Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu, but the Clippers pulled out of the talks after the Hornets asked, at the league's direction, to also include Eric Gordon and the Minnesota Timberwolves' first round pick in the 2012 draft. Two days later, on December 14, the two teams finally made the trade, sending Paul and two future second round draft picks to the Clippers for Gordon, rather than Bledsoe, as well as Kaman, Aminu, and the Minnesota Timberwolves' unprotected first round pick in the 2012 draft. Following the trade, Paul promised to "opt-in" to the final year of his contract, essentially guaranteeing he would be a member of the Clippers for at least two seasons, and implied he would like to remain in Los Angeles long term.
In his first regular season game as a Los Angeles Clipper, Paul recorded 20 points, 2 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals in a 105–86 win over the Golden State Warriors. He was selected as a starter for the 2012 All-Star Game. He also became the first Clipper to be named to the All-NBA First Team since the Clippers had moved to Los Angeles.
Awards and honors
Consecutive games with a steal: 108, April 13, 2007 to December 23, 2008
Fifth player in NBA history to lead the league in assists and steals in the same season
Only player in NBA history to lead the league in assists and steals in consecutive seasons (2007–08–2008–09)
Seasons leading the league in steals: 4 (2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12)
2nd in NBA history
Steals, half: 7, first half, vs. Dallas Mavericks, February 20, 2008
Most games with at least one steal, season: 80 (2007–08)
3rd in NBA history
Highest average, assists per game, career: 9.8 (4,771/485)
New Orleans Hornets records
Free throws made, career: 1,971
Highest average, assists per game, career: 9.9 (4,228/425)
Assists, season: 925 (2007–08) (11.6 apg)
Assists, game: 21, at Los Angeles Lakers, November 6, 2007
Assists, half: 14, second half, at Los Angeles Lakers, November 6, 2007
Games with 10 or more assists, season: 59 (2007–08)
Point-assist double-doubles, career: 150
Point-assist double-doubles, season: 56 (2007–08)
Consecutive games with a point-assist double-double: 8, twice
8, March 5, 2008 to March 19, 2008
8, March 25, 2008 to April 6, 2008
Triple-doubles, career: 11
Triple-doubles, season: 6 (2008–09)
Steals, season: 217, 2007–08 (2.7 spg)
Steals, game: 9, vs. Dallas Mavericks, February 20, 2008
Steals, half: 7, first half, vs. Dallas Mavericks, February 20, 2008
Paul's rookie year was 2005–06.
Highest free throw percentage, season: .847 (394–465)
Free throws made, game: 14, at New York Knicks, January 21, 2006
Free throw attempts, game: 17, at New York Knicks, January 21, 2006
Assists, season: 611 (7.8 apg)
Assists, game: 16, vs. Golden State Warriors, April 5, 2006
Steals, season: 175 (2.2 spg)
Steals, game: 7, vs. Utah Jazz, February 22, 2006
Highest average, assists per game, career: 11.0 (187/17)
Assists, game: 17, vs. Dallas Mavericks, April 22, 2008
NBA career statistics