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Thunder’s Chris Paul speaks on balancing trying to win a title and trying to be a great parent

Chris Paul, Thunder

Chris Paul is navigating the last few years of his career like a true veteran. During his previous stops in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Houston, Paul has always had his wife and two kids with him, yet his newest stop after being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the summer was supposed to be only a temporary one, leaving his wife and kids at home.

The Thunder point guard remembers that being the case for veteran Chauncey Billups during his brief two-year stint in Los Angeles:

“I remember when Chauncey came to the Clippers, his wife and kids were in Denver,” Paul told Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated. “I’ll never forget, I was in L.A. with my family, my brother and his wife. I told my wife that ain’t never going to be my story. She said, ‘You know, that’s right, whatever team you go to, tell them you have a plus-three.’ Whatever team I go to, I can’t be myself without my wife and kids.”

Yet Paul soon found himself living the reality of the business that is the NBA:

“It’s not ‘woe is me,’” said Paul. “The headline should say something about my wife. The peace of mind I have because I know my kids are being fed, are at school, and all that stuff is being taken care of. The real [story] is my wife.”

Between calls, texts, and FaceTime video chats, Paul keeps in touch with his wife and kids at all times, but still misses them and longs for them. That strain has done nothing to stop his championship drive, but he’s not willing to trade his pursuit of a championship to miss out on vital years of his kids’ formation:

“Obviously we’re talking about sports, but if you’re talking about a deeper meaning in life, would I rather play 24 or 25 years in the NBA and finally win that last year and be sitting over there as an old man rocking on the bench instead of spending valuable time with my kids? No,” Paul says. “Am I going to put the work in day in and day out to put myself in position to win a championship? Absolutely. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. If one day I can sit over here and say I got me a championship ring but I’ve been the worst parent, somebody got their priorities all messed up.”

Paul has lost a step or two since he was among the elite point guard talents in the league, but he has still managed to be a first-rate pops — a skill that has proven to age more gracefully than his speed or his lateral quickness.

Even though he has lost that step, though, Chris Paul is still playing at a high level and will likely be leading the Thunder to a surprise playoff berth. OKC may not be a title contender at 25-19 on the season and in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference, but there weren’t many who expected this kind of performance.