It'd be fair to say that I haven't watched the NBA with any regularity since MJ put down his last championship. For whatever reason the league lost whatever luster it had for me when Michael took off. The draw at the time was that every time Mike was on TV something unreal was bound to happen. And then he was gone and no one picked up the slack. It probably didn't help that the year following MJ's departure featured a 5 month lockout followed by 8 years of mediocre play led by dominating big men like Shaq & Duncan, the league just lost the imagination that used to draw me in when I was a kid. If you made an NBA Superstars video of the early 2000's you'd have half an hour of Duncan bank shots and 20 minutes of progressively less aggressive Shaq Dunks. Sweet. I'm told today that the NBA has the most talent its ever had. That may be true but even with the advent of the Kobe / Lebron era (I'm aware that Kobe's "era" began much earlier), I haven't really had any interest in watching. Those guys, while dominant, just lack something that I can't put my finger on (Kobe's luster was lost on me the day he decided to not take a single shot in a playoff game out of spite). Call it what you will maybe a little likable pizzazz that these guys lack... But whatever it is that they are missing is exactly what Chris Paul has; and he has it in f'n droves.
I'm not sure I've seen a more exciting athlete on TV in the last ten years. LT, Mike Vick, Lebby, Sid the Kid, college Reggie Bush, whoever. I'll put Paul up against any of them. If you haven't seen this kid play (and he is a kid at 23 years-old), you need to Tivo it or something. He's in the lane, he's throwing alleys and he's pulling up from anywhere making it look frickin seamless. He may be the most smooth player I've ever watched play... and I HATE NBA basketball (especially the Spurs who feature the least likable group of "stars" the world has ever known).
To put it in proper perspective, it's midnight on a Thursday, I just finished the last law school final exam I will ever take in my entire life (hopefully) and I haven't been alone with myself without a book in front of me for the last 4 weeks. And rather than abusing myself via the absurd amount of fresh porn that has built up in my absence (not to mention that Cinemax is presently showing "Hotel Erotica Cabo 10: Primal Urge"), I'm watching Chris Paul single-handedly keep the Hornets in a game against the best--and least exciting--team of the decade.
Now, maybe that simply means that I've lost my touch and just need to get back in the swing of things or maybe it means there are some things I need to work out in a lengthy therapy session, but the conclusion I've come to is that it means that Chris Paul is watchable to even the most casual of NBA fans under the most extreme of circumstances.
I'm not sure we'll ever see it replace the "NBA, it's FAN-tastic" slogan but for me: "Chris Paul, he'll distract you from masturbating" is pretty high praise.