IN LATE SEPTEMBER, I watched a presidential debate in which two men stood in front of a moderator and brazenly yelled at each other on national television for a couple of hours. The lack of civility clearly came more from one side of the stage than the other, but it was still hard to watch the night unfold and not think one thing: This can’t be what actual leadership looks like. It just…Nah. It can’t be.
I thought a lot about the concept of leadership over the next week or so. You can’t really teach it. There’s no “AP Leadership” in high school, and any “Leadership 101”-type college courses are focused more on famous leaders throughout history than learning to be the best leader you can be. I know you can become a better leader—there’s a hundred-million-dollar category of the book industry to prove it—but there’s innateness to leadership like you’re either someone who’s naturally interested in bringing people together and uplifting the people around you or you aren’t. Maybe that’s a little too rigid of a way to look at it; there’s clearly some gray area here. But I wasn’t sure.
So I decided I’d ask someone who would know.
Fast-forward two weeks to a blazing-hot Tuesday in Los Angeles. I’m sitting in an airy photo studio when Chris Paul walks in to take some photos for the cover of this magazine. He cycles through a few looks curated for him by his stylist Courtney Mays, then sits down to talk about the past year. Obviously, the first thing I ask about is leadership—is it innate or taught? Nature or nurture? Born with or learned?
“I think there’s a combination of both,” he says. “I say the best teacher is experience. I don’t know if it’s fortunately or unfortunately, but I’ve been in a lot of crazy situations.”
Let me pause Chris right there to zoom into that fact. Not only has Chris been in a lot of crazy situations—he’s basically the Forest Gump of the post-2005 NBA. It’s also the first thing his brother CJ says when asked about the evolution of Chris’s personality over the course of his playing career. “It’s nothing that he hasn’t already seen at this point in the NBA,” CJ says.
To run through it quickly: Chris is drafted to New Orleans but spends huge portions of his first and second seasons playing home games in Oklahoma City because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Then he becomes an All-Star, becomes friends with local NOLA hero Lil Wayne, becomes the best point guard in the League and makes the playoffs a few times. Then he’s traded to the Lakers, immediately un-traded from the Lakers when David Stern vetoes the trade on behalf of non-existent Hornets ownership, then is traded to the Clippers where he forms Lob City with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers become a perennial playoff team, Chris becomes president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), and signs a fat contract to stay in L.A. for a while. But drama follows—tapes of Donald Sterling saying horribly racist things are leaked to TMZ, and CP, Griffin, and Doc Rivers lead the team through what would eventually be a lifetime ban of the franchise’s now-former owner. Eventually, Chris is traded to Houston, where he plays alongside James Harden, and two seasons later he’s traded to Oklahoma City in exchange for Russell Westbrook, landing back in the city he spent so much time in as a rookie.
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THE THIRD Coming
FOR DJ WAGNER, SON OF DAJUAN AND GRANDSON OF MILT—BOTH FORMER NBA PLAYERS—BASKETBALL RUNS IN HIS FAMILY’S BLOOD. OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS, HE’LL USE THAT TALENT AND HIS NO. 1 RANKING IN THE CLASS OF 2023 TO LEAD CAMDEN HS TO THE TOP OF THE BASKETBALL WORLD (AGAIN).
STATE of the UNION
CHRIS PAUL HAS BEEN A NATURAL LEADER SINCE AS FAR BACK AS HE CAN REMEMBER. BUT THROUGH 2020, AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE NBPA, PAUL HAS LED ALL 450 NBA PLAYERS THROUGH THE MOST TURBULENT OF TIMES—THROUGH A PANDEMIC, A SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT, A BUBBLE, AND A SEASON THAT SOMEHOW STRETCHED 355 DAYS—AND THOSE LEADERSHIP ABILITIES HAVE BEEN MORE CRUCIAL THAN EVER. WE SPOKE WITH CP3 ABOUT THE LEGACY OF THE PAST YEAR AND MUCH MORE.
The Fresh Princesses of Blair
IT’S STRAIGHT UP DOMINATION WHEN OLIVIA MILES AND DOMINIQUE DARIUS, TWO OF THE BEST GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYERS IN THE COUNTRY, ARE ON THE FLOOR AT THE SAME TIME.
MEET THE SALAM SCHOOL STARS—AN ALL-MUSLIM GIRLS’ TEAM THAT’S CHALLENGING GENDER-NORMS WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITY.
Back For More
ATHLETIC PROPULSION LABS’ first basketball sneaker got banned from the NBA because it gave wearers an “advantage.” The brothers who launched the company have returned to the game 10 years later, with a duo of brand new sneakers.
3 the HARD WAY
THREE NBA CHAMPIONSHIPS WITH THREE DIFFERENT TEAMS MEANS DANNY GREEN KNOWS A THING OR THREE ABOUT WINNING. AS HE WRITES HERE, THE THIRD WAS THE MOST SATISFYING.
Though her first year in the WNBA was anything but normal, Atlanta dream star Chennedy Carter is on her way to a long career in front of the bright lights.
NO MERCY, NO FEAR
THE NBA IS BACK AND NEW ORLEANS PELICANS STAR ZION WILLIAMSON IS AS CONFIDENT AS HE’S EVER BEEN. LET THIS BE YOUR FINAL WARNING.
THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP
NATASHA CLOUD HAS ALWAYS FOUGHT FOR WHAT’S RIGHT. BY OPTING OUT OF THE 2020 WNBA SEASON TO FOCUS ON SOCIAL JUSTICE, THE REIGNING CHAMP CONTINUES HER FIGHT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.
MEET ROBBY SIKKA, THE SUPERFAN TURNED DOCTOR TURNED NBA TEAM VP WHOSE EXPERTISE HAS BEEN CRUCIAL FOR THE NBA THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC.
THOR VS AQUAMAN: AUSSIE TURF WARS!
SUPERHERO screen stars Chris Hemsworth and Jason Momoa are set to face off in competing big-budget flicks, but sources said their rivalry extends beyond the box office!
THE MILLION-DOLLAR MAN
HERE’S AN INSIDE LOOK AT HOW WAYNE GRETZKY SMASHED THROUGH THE HOCKEY HOBBY’S GLASS CEILING.
find your flow
At specific points around the world, the earth churns with tangible, tingly energy at sites known as vortices, visited by those seeking connection, healing, or a good story to tell. Here’s your road map to six such hotspots in the Western United States—and what to do once you get there.
Sharing Journeys and Insights
Successful Journalist Owns the Ultimate Lifestyle Publication for Growing Entrepreneurs
Organ Donations and Other Adventures at the DMV
Chrissy (all names have been changed) was brain dead. After the doctors made the brain death determination, someone from the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency met with her family and told them that she had elected to be an organ donor when she had gotten her driver’s license.
More Than the Vote
The suffragists’ struggle produced undaunted trailblazers, Black and white, who continued to pursue social reform.
Chris Mower of White Stable Farms discovered the Japanese style of gardening in Italy. Now, he’s bringing it to St. Louis.
HOLISTIC HEALTH: WHOLE-BODY APPROACH TO WELL-BEING
If you long for a healthcare provider who knows you, your family and your healthcare story, you’re not alone. Both providers and patients pine for a more meaningful doctor-patient relationship. Fortunately, the healthcare system is moving toward a more patient-centered approach focused on prevention as opposed to procedures. Direct primary care and functional medicine practices like Traverse City’s Table Health are championing the movement by offering cost-effective, transparent and relationship-based care.
KEEP ON TRUCKING
NOT EVEN A PANDEMIC CAN STOP AMERICA'S LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE PICKUP TRUCK
LOCK HIM UP?
Why Donald Trump could be the first president to face criminal charges