Sometimes, it's hard to imagine professional athletes really caring.
Many are millionaires, especially the stars. They compete hard, they are at the top of their game.
But rarely do we see how much they care. We see them arrive, we see them compete. We see them talk about it, mainly in cliches, afterward. But we rarely get to see the raw emotion and disappointment that goes with failing.
Chris Paul, however, let the Los Angeles Times in on just a little bit of that, and it didn't seem like a lie.
Paul told the paper that, after his team's Game 5 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, he cried in the locker room about what had just happened.
Why so disappointed?
Paul has played for plenty of bad teams and failed to go deep into the playoffs. That's why, last year, things felt different.
Paul's Clippers were taking on the Thunder and held a seven-point lead with 49.2 seconds left. They just had to hold on and not screw up. But that's exactly what they did.
They lost most of the lead and, leading by two points with the ball and 18.5 on the clock, Paul left his feet thinking he was about to get fouled and instead committed a turnover.
Then, on the defensive end, he fouled Russell Westbrook and sent him to the line, where Westbrook made all three to take the lead. Then, Paul mishandled the ball again and the Clippers never got a shot at winning it.
"It would be lying to you to say I'd forgotten about it," Paul told the L.A. Times. "It's one of those things that I don't want to forget, to tell you the truth. I think for me, I feel like you have to remember things like that and therefore you don't want that feeling again. I know I don't."
How will he use it?
This year, the Clippers have a good chance of being just as good, if not better, than last season. They open training camp in Las Vegas in less than two weeks, and Paul is ready to erase what happened last year.
It's motivational. It's a memory he can use. It's something that shows that Paul really cares, beyond the big money contracts and drama that enveloped the Clippers during last year's playoffs and the offseason.
"For me, that's one thing that I've always been: I'm self-motivated," Paul told the L.A. Times. "It doesn't matter how successful my season was or wasn't, I'm always going to strive to be better and push myself. This summer was all about getting better and working on weaknesses."
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