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After he went to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers eventually replaced the void of Chris Paul with an aging Steve Nash, but the love just is not the same.
As wonderful as Valentine’s Day is for the couples currently in love, it just as awkward and painful for the lost loves that got away. For the Clippers, Chris Paul is that once in a lifetime leading man that came and changed life for the better, forever. For the Lakers, he’s the one that got away, and the reason everything just has not felt quite right since.
Every Laker-fan respects CP3 to a greater level than just about any other guard in the NBA. Some may support Russell Westbrook because he’s a former UCLA Bruin, but everyone knows just how good Paul is. The tag of “best point guard in the league” is not an overstated title for CP3.
When Paul’s trade to the Lakers was vetoed, Angelinos flaunting purple and gold were not outraged that Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol—guys who helped win two championships—were being traded away; they were disgusted that David Stern and his executive power would not allow the best point guard in the league to come to the Lakers.
Perhaps, it was the MVP-season that made the purple and gold nation distraught at the cancelled trade.
During the 2007-08 Kobe Bryant MVP season, Paul was the main challenger. The vivacious point guard averaged 21.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.7 steals on the season, and he visited star-studded Staples Center to play the Lakers twice.
The first time, he produced 19 points and materialized 21 assists in a Hornets win over a pre-Pau Gasol trade Lakers team. However, the more memorable game for Laker-fans is the MVP game on Apr. 11, 2008.
Paul and the New Orleans Hornets came to LA with a game and a half lead on the Lakers at the death of the season. Kobe Bryant was not playing “like 2008 Kobe;” he was 2008 Kobe. Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 5.4 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per game that season.
On numbers alone, Paul still probably deserved the MVP trophy. However, the two best players in the league had a meaningful late season game to settle the matter. Both teams were vying for the number one seed—a seed that would ultimately go to the Lakers.
That Lakers’ win over the Hornets may have tipped the scales and earned Bryant the MVP trophy. His 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists combined with a victory were enough to overcome Paul’s 15 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Bryant and the Lakers won the game, won the MVP, and won the West. However, ever Lakers fan understood just how lucky they had been to overcome the best point guard in the league. After those performances, every purple and gold-flaunting LA-native understood exactly how good CP3 was.
When the trade to bring CP3 to the Lakes was announced, Lakers nation immediately fell in love. He was the one. Before the first date, however, he was ripped away from Lakers fans, and he ended up with the red-haired cousin—Blake Griffin.
Every time the Clippers and Lakers meet, it is impossible for Lakers fans not to think back to what could have been.
This Valentine’s Day, the red-haired cousin and the lost love come to visit the Lakers, and the reunion is bitterer than ever.