ClipperBlog is running a series called “Summer Reading” – tidbits, advice and (ideally) reading material for each member of the Los Angeles Clippers. The hope being that players return next season armed with newfound knowledge, improvements to their skills and emboldened by their summer studies. Because knowing is half the battle.
Reading Material: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
Chris Paul is an elite passer, shooter, and defender. He manages the game so well that he’s unofficially the coach of the team. He isn’t just one of the best point guards now, but he’s one of the best point guards ever. So what reading do you give to a person that is so clearly a master of his craft?
What about a book that helps Chris be the best version of Chris he can be, a book like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig?
If you’re like me, you probably relish watching Chris Paul’s fourth quarter dominance. You love the way that you can count on him stepping up and nailing those drifting fifteen footers from the right elbow, the way he takes it hard to the hoop, and when he runs into an obstacle finds the most impossible and shocking passes that get simple, easy baskets.
But isn’t there a lingering question about why he doesn’t use that same aggression in the first three quarters? This is not a choice to distribute or shoot, but an attitude about the way he plays the game. We know he’s demonically hyper-competitive, but it seems like he’s blocking out that side of him for the first three quarters as a way to incorporate his teammates. What would happen if he were still aggressively finding the seams in the first three quarters, and finding more opportunities for his teammates? Couldn’t his teammates be happy that way? Would he get his team beyond the second round in the playoffs? He’d probably keep them humming like a well-oiled machine. Or motorcycle.
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the narrator goes on a motorcycle journey with his son, Chris (ahem, ahem), and two friends. Throughout there are two constant conversational focuses between the narrator and the reader: 1) the narrator talks about maintaining his motorcycle in a manner that goes far beyond the oil change every 5,000 miles to the constant observance of the bike. When the narrator drives into the mountains, he notices (famously) “a loping sound” and he checks the engine because the oxygen-rich air changes the actions of the engine. He proactively adjusts the plugs and the valves to make the motorcycle work right for the environment. This is beyond just taking care of the motorcycle, but about defining your life by doing things well. And 2) the narrator frequently makes mention of Phaedrus chasing after them, and how he can effect a crazy world that the narrator isn’t ready to rejoin.
However, it’s the ending and the reconciliation with those two points that CP3 can learn from, and maybe figure out how to effectively take his game to the next level.