Paul was gracious, pleasant and seems very happy to be aboard in H-town, even if the press conference was a bit on the dull side, at least until the very end.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey got things going with the introduction, telling the crowd that something historic is on tap for this upcoming season.
“This is a moment our organization has been working toward to get ourselves back to a championship. We really think this is a historic pairing of James Harden and Chris Paul. It’s one that gives us an unbelievable chance to get a third NBA crown. No one’s ever put together two players this smart… and two of the best passers in NBA history on one team.”
For his part, CP3 naturally expressed his excitement, but his main focus was on the plethora of possibilities his play alongside James Harden will open up and, of course, a mutual desire to win a title. There was also a Ricky Bobby reference for good measure, in one of a few displays of Paul’s seemingly dry sense of humor.
“I’m a basketball junkie, I’ve watched a lot of basketball, and I’ve watched James a lot. There hasn’t been a day that’s went by (since the trade to Rockets) that James and I haven’t talked. Having that communication, the possibilities, and all the other guys on the team. We expect a lot out of each other, but also understand it’s a work in progress and have to take it one day at a time...
“We talked about the ultimate goal, and that’s winning. Neither one of us have had an opportunity to do that. We talked about how good that would feel. That’s probably what I’m most excited about, is to be on this journey with someone else who wants it as bad as I do. It’s not just about me helping him, he’s going to help me.
“Me and James talked about it. Some people are built different— and kudos to them who are like that— but I always say that I’m the most competitive person I know. Some people might say that’s a good thing, some people might say that’s a bad thing. There’s no reason in playing if you’re not going to win. Ricky Bobby said it best, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
Paul did temper expectations a bit, at least initially, telling the press to expect an adjustment period as he and The Beard get acclimated with one another, but that he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring in a championship:
“It’s definitely going to be an adjustment, but I’m excited about it... When you want to win, you’ll do whatever it takes. From day one, we’re going to be talking about sacrifice and doing whatever you have to to help us win.”
Head coach Mike D’Antoni then commented on Paul’s drive to be successful, saying that’s what he’s most looking forward to in coaching CP3:
“You hate to play against him, but I’ve been on his side, I’ve been against him. It’s much better to be on his side. He brings a special type of competitiveness. He’ll be on my butt too. We all are getting better with him. I don’t think there’s been anyone in the last 10 or 15 years in the league who’s better at the point guard position.
“I envision a great team. If you’ve got a great team, great teammates and they all want to do it, they’ll figure it out, it’s the easiest thing in the world. We’ll tweak things as we know each other’s games.”
Paul finished off the interview returning to what has us all excited about the trade: watching he and Harden play side-by-side in the back court and working their magic.
“I haven’t been this excited about basketball in a while, to tell you the truth. The timing couldn’t be better...
“James is a special player, man. The numbers he put up and stuff like that, what he’s capable of doing on a nightly basis is crazy. When the trade happened, I think I was looking at an iPad, and they were showing some highlights of him, and I turned to my wife and I was like, ‘Man, he’s sick.’ The craftiness, the shots he’s able to make. And I’m here to make his job easier.
Paul also acknowledged the work that needs done to catch the Golden State Warriors for Western Conference and NBA supremacy, saying:
“We’re not close enough to tell you the truth. Until somebody beats them, they’re who everyone’s chasing.”
As the session came to a close, someone asked Paul if that now he was in Houston, if he’d be getting a grill. And in perhaps his most endearing moment of the entire press conference, Paul responded:
Oh, and he’ll be getting one for D’Antoni too. Something tells me if they bring a third title to H-town, anything is possible.