Chris Paul’s on-court production speaks for itself. He’s a 12-time All-Star and he’s been a part of 11 All-NBA teams. Paul is a future Hall of Famer and considered one of the greatest point guards in the history of the NBA.
But it’s the work that Paul does off the court that is going to have the most lasting impact on the game of basketball. The Phoenix Suns’ guard has both a male and female AAU team, he sponsors HBCU basketball showcases, and he was the recipient of the inaugural Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award.
“I think the biggest thing that we can give these kids playing in grassroots is our time, right,” fPaul says. “Give them your time, give them your knowledge, tell them what you went through. Let them ask questions.”
Beyond that, Paul is an investor and brand ambassador for Damian Lillard’s insole company, Move. He was emphatic in stating the importance of orthotic insoles for an NBA player, saying that everything they do starts from their feet.
We caught up with Paul to talk about changing the insole game, his work off the court, and much more. The conversation has been edited for clarity.
What is it about Move that is different from other insole products on the market?
There are a lot of things that make Move different. I think one of the biggest things is it’s in performance space, right? Combine that with the fact that you got myself, Dame [Lillard], and Jamal Crawford, all of us involved who are fortunate enough to be in professional sports for a long time, we understand how important it is to take care of your feet. As much working out and training as everyone does, and that’s important too, obviously lifting weight, everything begins with your feet. Making sure that your feet are right is definitely the most important because if your feet aren’t in line, then it throws off the rest of the chain. I’ve been playing basketball my entire life, and never had any foot issues or foot injuries. And now in year 17 as great as my body feels, one of the biggest things that I’m always focusing on is my feet and making sure that I’m grounded, making sure that everything feels right. And when you put shoes on, for the casual fan, they probably never notice or pay attention, whenever any player gets a new pair of shoes. or if they get their shoes to a fan, the first thing that they do is they make sure that they got their insoles.
I always notice that when LeBron [James] or someone gives his shoes to a fan they always make sure to take out the insoles first. Does that speak to the personalization of the insoles? How specific do they get from player to player?
Oh, man, I’ll just tell you a quick story. When I grew up a diehard Michael Jordan fan I was always in his sneakers and always in the shoes and I always thought that the shoe was made for Michael Jordan, right? I thought that a guy who had a signature shoe that the inside of the shoe was made for them too, until I got my own signature shoe and realized that all the technology around the shoe is made for the signature athlete, but you still have to have orthotics.
What are your plans for the summer, both on and off the court?
I think my plans for the summer are to spend as much time with my family as possible. And I know that’s probably not the fun thing I wanna hear, but for me, I actually live in Phoenix and my wife and my kids live in LA. They’re at the age where I need to try and spend as much time with them as possible.
Awesome, so that brings me to my next topic about how involved you are with youth basketball specifically at the AAU level. Can you speak to the importance of growing the game through the youth?
Oh man, it’s very important to me. My dad spent his entire 401k on me and my brother playing travel basketball. I have a youth men’s AAU basketball team and a youth women’s team. The women’s team is called the Carolina Flame and then my men’s team is called Team CP3. There’s no greater thing than going down and watching these guys grow up. We got a kid in the NBA draft coming up named Wendell Moore who’s been in our program since he was 10 years old and we’re hoping to hear his name.
What do you think current NBA players and the league can do to help grow the youth game even more?
A number of players have their own AAU team. And I think while it’s always great to support these teams EYBL and everything financially, I think the biggest thing that we can give these kids playing in grassroots is our time, right? Give them your time, give them your knowledge, and tell them what you went through. Let them ask questions. For the last 15 years or so, I go to the EYBL Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia every single year. It’s on my calendar every single year. And so in mid-July, I’ll be in Augusta at Peach Jam.
So there’s a number of players that have grown up through your camps that now are currently in the league. What’s it like playing against guys that you helped teach the game?
It’s a very fulfilling thing and these guys who played in my program they’re like our family. And I think the fun part about it is, I remember going to AAU tournaments with Coby White and Wendell Carter and Theo Pinsen and all them and them talking junk like, “Line up, coach, do this, do this.” And now I get to play against them. You know what I mean, and it’s at the highest level. So I think the coolest part for me is that guys like Josh Okogie, Collin Sexton, all these different guys that even when I’m done playing, I’ll still be excited. Like I’m still playing because I get a chance to go watch them play all the time.
When you go head to head against those guys, is there any extra motivation to show them you are who you are and put the young guys in their place?
Always. Because if I don’t, I’m never going to hear the end of it. The two guys out of our program that talk the most junk to me are Coby White and Theo Pinson.
Outside of being involved with the youth game, you’re a huge advocate for the female game and the WNBA. Why is that such an important thing for you?
It’s always been an important thing for me because first and foremost, I’m a fan. When I was 10, 11 years old, I remember being back home in my hometown, running around raising the roof like Teresa Witherspoon, Cynthia Cooper, [Sheryl] Swoopes and all that. And even now as the game has grown, I’m a huge fan of the WNBA. We share a practice facility with the Phoenix mercury. So I get a chance to see Tina Charles, I see Taurasi, I see Skylar [Diggins]. And then my daughter never watched any of my games, anything like that. She’s nine years old and one year ago she decided that she loved basketball, go figure.
How much did it mean to you to earn the first WNBA Advocacy Award?
Oh man, that was something that was unexpected and for it to be named after Kobe and Gigi, and to be able to receive that award from Vanessa, 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 of a deal do you think that is for HBCUs?
It’s very important. For HBCUs, one of the biggest things that they lack is funding, I think that’s great for Howard, but we got to figure out how to continue to do this with other HBCUs and keep empowering them and make sure that they have, the tools and the capability to do the different things that some of these PWIs are.
You also continue to be incredibly active and supportive of HBCUs yourself. Do you have anything coming down the pipeline that you can shed some light on?
We got our show that we’re showing in July where we followed the Southern University dance team. We just did a partnership with Koia, a plant-based drink company. We got a couple of classes that are opening up at HBCUs and we’re just trying to continue to grow and partner with anyone who has the same goals.
I wanna finish things up with a couple of sneaker questions. So you mentioned earlier that you have your own signature shoe. Which of your signature sneakers is your favorite?
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 my shoes are very detail oriented, and on the bottom of the left shoe is a map of my hometown, like where my high school was back in North Carolina. And on the bottom of the right shoe is the map of downtown LA where the Staples Center is. So it was basically showing where I came from to where I am now. On the shoe strings it had 336, which is the area code from my hometown and 310 which is the area code for LA.
If Jordan were to release one of your exclusive PEs, which one would you choose?
I saw something that looked like they almost came out with my 5s that I used to have that I used to play in. Maybe the 11s, I got some white, blue, and red 11s.
To wrap up, which NBA player do you think is most deserving to have the next signature shoe?
Devin Booker, he deserves it. He is a perennial All-Star and a straight hooper. You know what I mean? He love, shoes, loves sneakers, and he’s a fan favorite.