Matt Moore of CBSSports.com has a new series comparing current players to past stars, and he started it with Isiah Thomas and Chris Paul:
In terms of style, Paul is much more beautific with his approach. His passes are delicate floaters, while Thomas’ were primarily either lasers or high arcing bombs. Paul’s 3-pointer is a dagger, while Thomas was more of a hoist. Thomas preferred the mid-range jumper while Paul’s short-elbow floater is stunning in its lethality, when he turns to it. But there are vital comparisons. Both Paul and Thomas possess the intense desire tow in at all costs that helped Thomas win the title. Of all the new breed of superstars, particularly those in the clique of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris (Bosh), Carmelo Anthony, etc., Paul’s drive to win is perhaps fiercest. It was Thomas’ intensity, or arrogance, depending on which side of the aisle you’re on, that led to his feuds with various stars of his era. He and Paul share that, a willingness to tussle with nearly anyone. It is a relentless gear that never allows them to back down from anyone, while always then turning a smile to the camera. But Thomas’ battles were almost personal, more vicious. While Thomas has, despite his numerous, nearly incalculable public relations disasters, been well-spirited toward his former rivals in retirement, at the time, it was Thomas against the world.
Paul’s approach has been different. He’s much more calculating in his approach. He’s willing to befriend anyone that will help him, and makes nearly no enemies. Paul is beloved by everyone. He’s a darling of the league. A brilliant player who serves as a tremendous (member) of his community, an All-Star who pals around with the two-time MVP. He’s everything to everyone, where Thomas was popular but also controversial.
Here’s where I stand:
- Thomas’ total body of work easily trumps Paul’s so far.
- Paul has already played at a higher peak than Thomas ever did, although his lead is slim.
- If I had to bet today, when Paul retires, his career will outshine Thomas’. In fact, I think Paul’s career will fall short of only Magic Johnson among point guards.