Once upon a time, there were two California franchises, and they were both laughed at by everyone associated with the NBA, or worse yet, barely even thought of.
Those two teams were the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers.
But then Stephen Curry and Chris Paul came along. Paul to the Clippers and Stephen Curry, of course, to the Warriors. The two teams formed a rivalry, with the Clippers gaining an early edge only to get dusted by Curry and the Warriors after coach Steve Kerr joined Golden State. He led the team, along with Curry and others, to three NBA titles to close the last decade.
But Curry and Paul go further back than that. According to the 35-year-old Paul, Curry attended his basketball camp before Curry hit the pros. Their families know each other, have the same sports agent, the same wealth manager and even went to Disneyland, with family members alongside, and also trained together before Curry hit it big.
He told NBC Sports analyst and former Warriors swing-man Dorell Wright that and more, including how he watched Curry’s game get better and better as the Clippers and Warriors rivalry from the past developed.
“When he came in the league, he had my respect. Because we had spent that real time together, training and working out and all that,” Paul told Wright. “Steph just kept getting nicer, and nicer, and nicer. It’s one of those things where, like I said, he had my respect, but when I played for the Clippers, once we got in that playoff series, we knew what it was. [The rivalry] just slowly started building.”
You can hear the full clip below, courtesy Warriors on NBCS.
The Clippers beat Curry and the Warriors in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, making Joe Lacob hopping mad at then coach Mark Jackson. Lacob believed his roster was better than the Clippers’ and he was right, as evidenced by Golden State’s championship in the year that followed with Kerr at the helm.
Paul had the latest laugh, however, as he and his new team, the Suns, beat Golden State handily on Thursday night 114-93. Still, you’ve got to wonder how he really feels about the younger Curry rocketing past him in the NBA stratosphere, earning three titles to Paul’s none. Perhaps he reveals that over the length of Wright’s full interview.
But I doubt he says how it really feels because as a competitor, it must hurt. But hey, maybe Paul will have his day in the sun with the Larry O’Brian Trophy. He might still have to get past Curry, however, and Steph is still pretty damn nice on the court.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)