Chris Paul’s field production speaks for itself. He is a 12-time All-Star and has been on 11 All-NBA teams. Paul is a future Hall of Famer and considered one of the greatest point guards in NBA history.
But it’s the work Paul does off the court that will have the most lasting impact on basketball. The Phoenix Suns guard has both a men’s and women’s AAU team, he sponsors HBCU basketball showcases, and he was the recipient of the first ever Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award.
“I think the biggest thing we can give to these kids playing grassroots is our time, right,” says fPaul. “Give them your time, give them your knowledge, tell them what you’ve been through. Let them ask questions.
Beyond that, Paul is an investor and brand ambassador for Damian Lillard’s insole company, Move. He insisted on the importance of orthopedic insoles for an NBA player, saying that everything he does starts with his feet.
We caught up with Paul to talk about changing the insole game, his work off the court and more. The conversation has been edited for clarity.
How is Move different from other insoles on the market?
There are many things that make Move different. I think one of the most important things is that it’s in the performance space, right? Combine that with the fact that you got me, Lady [Lillard], and Jamal Crawford, all of us involved who have been fortunate enough to be in professional sports for a long time, understand how important it is to take care of your feet. As much as everyone trains and trains, and that’s important too, obviously lifting weights, it all starts with your feet. Making sure your feet are straight is definitely the most important because if your feet are out of line it throws the rest of the chain off. I’ve played basketball all my life and never had foot problems or foot injuries. And now in 17th grade, as good as my body feels, one of the most important things that I always focus on is my feet and making sure I’m grounded, making sure everything is okay . And when you put on shoes, for the casual fan, they’ll probably never notice or pay attention, every time a player gets a new pair of shoes. or if they give their shoes to a fan, the first thing they do is make sure they have their insoles.
I always notice that when LeBron [James] or someone gives their shoes to a fan, they always make sure to remove the insoles first. Does it talk about the customization of the soles? How specific are they from player to player?
Oh, man, I’m just gonna tell you a quick story. When I grew up as a die-hard Michael Jordan fan, I was always in his sneakers and always in his shoes and I always thought the shoe was made for Michael Jordan, right? I thought a guy who had a signature shoe that had the inside made for him too, until I got my own signature shoe and realized that all the tech around the shoe is made for the signature athlete, but you still have to have orthotics.
What are your plans for the summer, on and off the pitch?
I think my plans for the summer are to spend as much time as possible with my family. And I know that’s probably not the fun thing I want to hear, but for me, I live in Phoenix and my wife and kids live in Los Angeles. They are at the age where I have to try to spend as much time as possible with them.
Great, so that brings me to my next topic on your involvement in youth basketball, especially at the AAU level. Can you talk about the importance of developing the game through young people?
Oh man, this is very important to me. My dad spent all of his 401k on me and my brother playing travel basketball. I have a youth AAU men’s basketball team and a youth women’s team. The women’s team is called the Carolina Flame, then my men’s team is called the CP3 team. There’s nothing bigger than coming down and watching these guys grow. We have a kid in the NBA draft named Wendell Moore who has been on our program since he was 10 years old and we hope to hear his name.
What do you think current NBA players and the league can do to help develop the youth game even further?
A number of players have their own AAU team. And I think while it’s always great to support these EYBL teams and everything financially, I think the biggest thing we can give to these kids playing grassroots football is our time, right not ? Give them your time, give them your knowledge, and tell them what you’ve been through. Let them ask questions. For about 15 years, I’ve been going to the EYBL Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia every year. It’s on my calendar every year. And so in mid-July, I’ll be in Augusta at the Peach Jam.
So there are a number of players who have grown through your camps and are currently in the league. What’s it like playing against guys you’ve helped teach the game to?
It’s a very rewarding thing and these guys who have played in my program are like our family. And I think the funny part about that is I remember going to AAU tournaments with Coby White and Wendell Carter and Theo Pinsen and all of them and them talking nonsense like, “Line up, coach, do this, do this. And now I can play against them. You know what I mean, and it’s at the highest level. So I think the coolest part for me is guys like Josh Okogie, Collin Sexton, all these different guys that even when I’m done playing, I’ll still be excited. As if I was still playing because I had the chance to watch them play all the time.
When you go up against these guys, is there any extra motivation to show them who you are and put the youngsters in their place?
Still. Because if I don’t, I’ll never hear the end of it. The two guys in our program who tell me the most junk are Coby White and Theo Pinson.
In addition to being involved in the youth game, you are a big advocate for the women’s game and the WNBA. Why is this such an important thing to you?
It’s always been an important thing for me because first and foremost I’m a fan. When I was 10, 11, I remember being back home in my hometown, running around lifting the roof like Teresa Witherspoon, Cynthia Cooper, [Sheryl] Swoops and all that. And even now that the game has grown, I’m a huge WNBA fan. We share a training center with the Phoenix Mercury. So I get to see Tina Charles, I see Taurasi, I see Skylar [Diggins]. And then my daughter never watched any of my games, nothing like that. She’s nine years old and a year ago she decided she loved basketball, go figure.
What does it mean to you to win the WNBA’s top advocacy award?
Oh man, it was something unexpected and that he was named after Kobe and Gigi, and to be able to receive this award from Vanessa, along with my daughter, it was one of the greatest honors of my life.
Jordan Brand recently reached an agreement with Howard University to be their official sponsor. How important do you think a deal is for HBCUs?
Its very important. For HBCUs, one of the biggest things they’re missing is funding, I think that’s great for Howard, but we have to figure out how to keep doing that with other HBCUs and keep holding them accountable and us sure they have, the tools and the ability to do the different things that some of these PWIs do.
You also continue to be incredibly active and supportive of HBCUs yourself. Do you have anything coming up that you can shed some light on?
We had our show that we show in July where we followed the dance team from Southern University. We just partnered with Koia, a plant-based beverage company. We have a few classes opening up at HBCUs and we’re just trying to keep growing and partnering with everyone who has the same goals.
I want to end with a few questions about sneakers. So you mentioned earlier that you have your own signature shoe. Which of your signature sneakers is your favourite?
Probably my 6s. My 6s came out the first year I was in LA with the Clippers and on the bottom of the shoe all of my shoes are very detailed, and on the bottom of the left shoe is a map of my city native, like where my high school was back in North Carolina. And on the bottom of the right shoe is the map of downtown Los Angeles where the Staples Center is located. So that basically showed where I came from to where I am now. On the shoestrings were 336, which is my hometown area code and 310 which is the Los Angeles area code.
If Jordan were to release one of your exclusive EPs, which would you choose?
I saw something that almost seemed to come out with my 5s that I had and was playing in. Maybe the 11s, I got white, blue, and red 11s.
In conclusion, which NBA player do you think deserves the most to have the next signature shoe?
Devin Booker, he deserves it. He’s a perennial All-Star and a straight hooper. You know what I mean? He loves shoes, loves sneakers and he’s a fan favorite.