Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul talked about various subjects after the All-Star Game. Among them, CP3 shared his experience playing on the same team with Kobe Bryant.
Q. What made this weekend so special, this game so special?
CHRIS PAUL: The weekend was special because for me I hadn’t played in the game since ’16 or ’17 or something. So you sort of take it for granted at some point. Me and Kyle Lowry talked about how nice it was just to get out there, the camaraderie, and talk to the guys. It was fun, especially to have my family. My kids get a chance to experience this stuff with me.
Q. Do you think the All-Star Game is back because of the competitive game we saw?
CHRIS PAUL: I don’t know, you tell me.
Q. I’m pretty excited about it.
CHRIS PAUL: I’m obviously biased. I don’t think it ever went anywhere. I know I’m always competitive whenever I play. But the good thing about our league is we’re always adding things and trying new things and trying to figure out from my fans what they like. This was an idea I brought to Adam. Thankfully, we tried it out, so I was asking the guys how they enjoyed it during the game and at the end of the game. So you all be sure to ask him.
Q. You saw 24s on the back of every jersey who played, 2 on the back of every teammate, the patch, the tributes. What was it like emotional tonight to play in a game that was so centered on honoring Kobe Bryant?
CHRIS PAUL: It was tough early, especially early. For a lot of us, it’s still surreal. It’s not real until you start showing pictures and talking about it. But I think the best way we could honor Kobe, Gigi, and everyone involved was to play like we played, you know what I mean?
Me and Russ kept talking about it, that’s one thing about Kobe, whenever he was on our team in the All-Star Game, there wasn’t none of that cool stuff. There wasn’t none of that. It was like, as long as they throw the ball up, let’s get to it.
Q. Chris, with you guys playing for the charities for each quarter with the money going to charity, is that something you’d like to see continue going forward with you guys playing to give back to the community?
CHRIS PAUL: Absolutely. I think sometimes people lose sight of the purpose of All-Star Weekend. It’s really a big “thank you” to the fans and all the people that support us. We go out there and compete night in and night out, but there’s no us without the fans. So doing the charity component, you know, it’s all about competition. So any time we could win a quarter and know that it’s going to one of our charities, then let’s play. So I like it.
Q. You passed up that first alley-oop opportunity from Russ. What was the conversation with him
after that, and then how did it feel to dunk after?
CHRIS PAUL: Kemba backed up into me a little bit, you know what I mean? I ain’t Russ. It’s got to be the perfect throw, everything. So it was cool. Like I said, it was nice to get an opportunity to play with those guys because three, four days, we’re going to be back to the grind, and it ain’t going to be all that dapping up.
Q. A lot of people are doubting your abilities to make it back to another All-Star Game in your career, but tonight you’re one of the leading scorers in tonight’s game. Why is it important for you to prove people wrong?
CHRIS PAUL: I don’t think about the people. I think about myself, you know what I mean? I think I’m my hardest critic. I push myself more than anybody in here could ever do. So for me, it’s always about the journey. It’s about working hard, and it’s the analytics and the statistics that say at this age you can do this or you can do that. Look at my brother Bron. Every year they say he’s going to slow down, right? And then what?
So I think it’s more about competing with yourself and not worry about what everybody else saying.