Chris Paul’s game is rarely questioned.
Some critics won’t let him slide on never advancing past the conference finals. But most are inclined to acknowledge that the nine-time All-Star is one of the great playmakers in the history of the game.
Paul a frequent target of criticism
Chris Paul the teammate and person is much more polarizing. Former NBA player Kenyon Martin gave voice in 2012 to the belief that Paul is commonly disliked in NBA circles, describing his former teammate as “sneaky” in an interview with Colin Cowherd.
“People think he’s a politician, and people don’t trust politicians, Martin said. “He does things inside the locker room that some teammates question. Dealing with management and coaches, people deem it as sneaky, things like that. But you don’t know what’s going on behind the closed doors and speculation.”
“They think he has a hidden agenda that doesn’t include the rest of the 14 guys. ... For some guys it’s deeper than basketball, it’s about can I trust you? ... And sometimes it comes across as being selfish at times.”
Did Paul favor ‘banana-boat crew’ in labor talks?
A Sunday report from The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss reinforced that lack of trust for Paul, but on a larger scale. Strauss cited an anonymous NBA player who chastised Paul for his belief that he only advocated for elite NBA players in his role as president of the National Basketball Players Association.
The anonymous player criticized Paul — the lead player voice in union negotiations with the NBA — for looking out for “the banana-boat crew” at the expense of lower-tier players.
Paul critic: ‘It’s taken from the mid-level’
The banana-boat crew consists of Paul, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, famously close friends and all at some point among the league’s best and highest-paid players.
“They advocate for the interests of max players and super-max players,” the source said of Paul and his fellow union reps. “Basically, the CBA has helped the whole banana-boat crew from back in the day. It’s taken from the mid-level. I think middle-tier players aren’t getting that mid-level money anymore.”
So this player’s gripe is that in a salary-capped sport, Paul arranged for the best players in the league to get a disproportionate share of the pie that players split up.
Stars drive the NBA
While Paul may or may not be well-liked, the argument that max players are getting paid too much is dubious. While elite players are indeed signing massive deals, they’re still not getting paid proportionate to the actual value they provide to the NBA.
More than any other American sports league, stars drive the NBA and are the primary reason people show up to games and watch on TV. Stars win championships and drive revenue. People don’t tune in to watch Marcus Morris.
And Marcus Morris just agreed to a deal that will pay him $15 million this season.
Meanwhile, the maximum mid-level exception, which allows teams over the salary cap to sign players for more than the minimum salary, was estimated at $9.25 million this offseason.
If the anonymous player in Strauss’ report believes that guys like Morris and lesser-tier players should be paid more, his problem should be with owners and a salary cap that limits how much of the NBA riches players are permitted to share.
Whether or not he likes Paul to begin with is an entirely separate story.
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