'It's always fun when he's around': Inside Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's All-Star weekend
CHICAGO — Chris Paul was probably the only spectator in the United Center who noticed. Sitting courtside during the Rising Stars game, Paul watched Shai Gilgeous-Alexander chase down a ball out of bounds to get it to the game official quickly and rush it up the floor.
“He sees me do that all the time during the regular season,” Paul said. “… Some of the stuff I say to Shai all the time, sometimes he don’t want to hear it.”
Like when Paul points out that Gilgeous-Alexander jumped on another pump fake.
“But he’s starting to see,” Paul said. “… Shai is going to be so good.”
With Paul selected to the All-Star Game, and Gilgeous-Alexander to Rising Stars and the skills challenge, the two shared All-Star festivities this past weekend. They were the ideal duo to represent the new Thunder. OKC acquired both in blockbuster trades last summer — Gilgeous-Alexander was part of the package the Clippers traded for Paul George, and Paul came from Houston in the Russell Westbrook trade. Their friendship has grown while the Thunder has outperformed outside expectations.
“You know what’s crazy,” Paul said, “is that I know I’m probably like a burden to Shai at times.”
Gilgeous-Alexander’s play this season, and the way he talks about Paul, suggest that the second-year guard has been eager to learn from the future Hall of Famer.
Despite their 13-year age difference, the two point guards clicked almost immediately after landing in OKC. Gilgeous-Alexander explained earlier this season that Paul is like a big kid.
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Their dynamic has captivated the NBA community enough that they were asked about each other all weekend. Most notably, former President Barack Obama took a moment to congratulate Gilgeous-Alexander during the NBA Cares Day of Service on Friday.
“Is Chris teaching you something?” Obama asked while shaking Gilgeous-Alexander’s hand.
“A little bit,” Gilgoeus-Alexander said with a half-smile. “Not too much though.”
“That’s my boy though.”
“Just because he’s old like me,” Obama said.
On Saturday, Paul joined Obama — along with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Love — for a fireside chat on leadership and community engagement.
Paul’s and Gilgeous-Alexander’s schedules didn’t overlap often. While Gilgeous-Alexander was competing in the ELEAGUE NBA 2K20 Throwdown, Paul was at the Tech Summit. While Paul was on the Infatuation Wine Panel, Gileous-Alexander was making an appearance at the Levi’s Ball-B-Que. And so on. But Paul wasn’t going to miss his teammate’s Rising Stars game.
Paul sat courtside with his wife and son, as Gilgeous-Alexander recorded 16 points, three rebounds and three assists in the World team’s 151-131 loss to USA. According to Gilgeous-Alexander, Paul heckled his younger teammate throughout the game.
At one point, Gilgeous-Alexander scored a left-handed layup and didn’t hold that hand up as he ran back on defense, like he usually does in games.
“He said I was acting different,” Gilgeous-Alexander told The Oklahoman. “Just silly things like that. It’s always fun when he’s around.”
Nuggets at Thunder
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
TV: FSOK (Cox 37)
Radio: WWLS-AM 640 / 98.1 FM