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|From the day Chris Paul arrived in L.A., he became the unquestioned leader of the Clippers, raising the expectations way beyond their tarnished past.|
When Paul arrived in Los Angeles with his family in December, he wanted to buy a bunch of Los Angeles Clippers hats. He wanted to give one to everyone in his family so they could represent his new team when walking around in his new city. Little did he know how little his new city represented his new team. Paul's wife, Jada, drove around L.A. and went to a handful of stores looking for a Clippers hat, any kind of Clippers hat, before coming back empty handed. Even a month after his arrival, the first thing Paul asked an employee at a local Foot Locker where he was making an appearance was, "Where can I get Clippers hats?" "I've been here awhile and I can't find any," Paul said. "I've been asking my wife. She went everywhere and there were no Clippers hats anywhere, and I don't like that. I don't like that at all. She was at every store and they didn't have any. We have to do better than that." The hats, or lack thereof, represented a smaller aspect of a larger issue for Paul, which was reshaping the image and changing the culture of the Clippers. Paul knew the perception of the Clippers was bad around the league and the country but had no idea before he arrived in L.A. how bad it was within the city and even within the walls of the team's arena. "We didn't know it was this bad," said Paul's dad, Charles. "Especially playing in the same building as the Lakers and seeing all their banners. You see it on TV but we didn't really realize how bad it was until we got here."
|Paul's confidence and basketball intelligence have convinced Clippers fans that the franchise's problems of the past are just that -- in the past.|