From a Clippers perspective, All-Star weekend offered a chance to go their separate ways for a bit. Call it a cooling-off period after the 35-19 record they compiled was good enough for just sixth place in the rugged Western Conference. Much lower than anyone would have imagined going into the season.“To get a little bit of a break from each other, from the game,” Paul said. “And come back ready to play the second half of the season.”There are potentially bleak days ahead, with Griffin out four to six weeks and the Clippers’ defense still not showing signs of discernible improvement. Somewhere between last season and this season they lost their way a bit defensively. It’s absolutely cost them in the standings and it might very well be their undoing in the postseason.“I don’t know. I don’t know the answer,” Paul said frankly when asked the root of the Clippers’ defensive issues. “I just know we have to do better.”Still, there will be future days for Paul to address the state of the Clippers and a more subdued forum to discuss L.A.’s increasingly shrinking basketball influence. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Friday wasn’t that kind of party.In some ways, it was about Paul reconnecting with a significant part of his beginnings and a chance to reflect on just how far he’s come over the last decade.New York was the launch site of his brilliant college career at Wake Forest and Madison Square Garden the hallowed stage he climbed to play his first college basketball game.“I’ve got great memories of New York,” Paul declared, his audience a throng of reporters with accents ranging from Asian to Middle Eastern to Spanish, and every one of them hanging on to every word of a North Carolina-born and bred basketball junkie who’s grown up to be one of the best point guards of his generation.“It’s something you never take for granted,” Paul said.No matter what might be going on 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles — namely the Clippers’ struggles to put it together — this was a chance for Paul to breathe, recollect and appreciate. He’s 29 years old now, no longer the bright-eyed youngster who took the NBA by storm 10 years ago.He’s a husband now, a father to a young son and daughter. This is Paul’s eighth All-Star weekend, but any jaded attitude that might be setting in immediately fades upon seeing it through the eyes of his 4-year-old son.“That’s one of the coolest parts of all this, having my son with me to take it all in,” he said.He’s also the President of the NBA Players Association, if not an elder statesman of the game certainly approaching middle age. And while he’s still one of the fiercest gunslingers in professional basketball, some of the point guards he guns hardest for aren’t just opponents, they’re mentees and graduates of his annual basketball camp. Stephen Curry and Eric Bledsoe, two of the best young players in the NBA, are among the most prominent.“It’s crazy, but I guess it’s just me getting older,” Paul said. “Some of those guys, I’ve built long friendships and relationships with. But they know (it’s all business) once we get on the court.”Off the court, they know they can pick his brain about everything ranging from league matters to how best to taken in All-Star weekend.“My advice is to take plenty of pictures,” Paul said. “A lot of times, it’s the only thing you have to remember it by.”But while his 10 years in the NBA have added great wisdom and experience, if not mileage on his body, they haven’t eroded the love affair he has with a sport that lifted him out of the nurturing bosom of Charlotte, N.C., and delivered him to world super-stardom.Paul grew up idolizing Michael Jordan. Now he’s a friend and business partner of the NBA legend, his Jordan CP3 sneaker collection one of the most popular brands in Jordan’s legendary shoe empire.“Kind of crazy, being from North Carolina, being able to call MJ a mentor and a friend,” Paul said.If not also a driven, competitive businessman.“I’m always asking him about my shoes and my ideas and he’ll be like, ‘You trying to sell my shoes or your shoes?’” Paul said, laughing.There will be other days for Chris Paul to talk about the Clippers and what it will take to get things right.On Friday, it was a chance to breath, reflect and appreciate. NEW YORK — There will be other days to talk about a season that hasn’t yet lived up to advanced billing. About how the Clippers have teetered between average and maddening and not exactly capable of soaring with the elite teams in the NBA.And when it comes to Chris Paul being the singular Los Angeles point man for All-Star weekend — teammate Blake Griffin is down with a staph infection in his right elbow and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers is out for the season with a torn rotator cuff — about the only thing more depressing than the fragile health of the L.A. hoops scene was a bitter cold front taking a major bite out of the Big Apple on Friday.It was only a few years ago that the West All-Stars were dominated by Los Angeles, with Paul and Griffin teaming with Bryant and Pau Gasol to form a decidedly L.A.-centric All-Star weekend.Those days are long gone of course. Hell, even Paul had to sweat out the decision of West coach Steve Kerr to add him as a reserve. Had Kerr opted for someone else, there is a good chance the City of Angels would have been shut out of this event for the first time in forever.
“I think some of the things I’d like to learn from when you watch and appreciate what he’s done for so long is the consistency,” McVay said. “Even when you just hear him speak, the wealth of knowledge and experience that he’s pulling from is incredible. And he’s got such an ownership and mastery on offense, defense and special teams.”You never see the Patriots beat themselves.”The Rams and Patriots will kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday. Sean McVay has already proven so much in his first two seasons at the helm in Los Angeles.The Rams coach finds it “humbling and flattering” that teams are now out to find the “next Sean McVay”, but credited the team’s effort and organization’s success as the reason for his. “Football is the ultimate team game,” McVay said during his Thursday press conference. “It truly takes everybody and I think that’s what’s special about what we’ve got going on this year.”McVay’s first Super Bowl appearance poses the ultimate test as he prepares to face off against Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who at age 66 is twice McVay’s age and boasts more than four decades of coaching experience in the NFL. The Patriots enter an NFL-record 11th Super Bowl and ninth under Belichick with veteran Tom Brady under center.Since the Rams hired McVay in 2017, the team is tied for the NFL’s best win percentage (.750) and has the league’s top-scoring offense (31.4). On the other hand, the Patriots have NFL’s highest win percentage (.740) and the No. 1 scoring offense (27.3) since hiring Belichick in 2000.