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Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011

Paul promises to make the Clippers respectable


LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul endured two weeks of sleepless nights, stressful days and at least one imploded trade before he finally found a new home with the Los Angeles Clippers.

News photo
Big addition: Chris Paul shows off his new uniform after being introduced by the Los Angeles Clippers at a news conference on Thursday. AP

That's just one reason the West Coast looks so good to the superstar point guard, who's eager to start turning his new franchise into the greatest show in L.A.

The Clippers formally introduced their new acquisition on Thursday night after he spent the day at their Playa Vista training complex. The longtime New Orleans guard tried on his new No. 3 jersey and met with Blake Griffin and the rest of his revitalized teammates, who can't wait to catch the four-time All-Star's passes.

"This is not my day, by the way. This is the Clippers' day," Paul told an overflowing media crowd. "This is a humbling experience, and I'm so grateful and thankful to be here."

A day earlier, the Clippers acquired Paul in a four-player trade with the Hornets, outmaneuvering the Lakers and several other suitors for the players widely considered the NBA's best point guard. Paul realizes his move is a bold endorsement of the long-struggling Clippers, who have been overshadowed by the 16-time champions for three decades in Southern California.

Paul already realizes what side he's taking in the one-sided Staples Center rivalry, repeatedly refusing to talk about the Lakers' squashed trade for him — even refusing to say the Lakers' name.

"The other team has won championships, and it's about winning, but I think Blake has done an unbelievable job changing that (perception)," Paul said. "You can't take anything away from him about how he has changed the culture here in L.A. I'm coming here to join and be a part of it, and hopefully we can grow together as basketball players and continue to change everything. That's what we play for."

Griffin is sad to lose teammates Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu in the deal, but the Rookie of the Year is looking forward to lining up with Paul and fellow newcomers Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups, called "my big brother" by Paul.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Griffin said. "The target has shifted a little bit, but the only thing I'm going to promise is that you're going to get our best every night. And when you hear 'The Clippers,' it's not going to be a joke anymore. I can guarantee you that."

Paul is eager to play with Griffin after they teamed up last year at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. He knows fans are already salivating at the prospect of Paul's passes finding Griffin for all varieties of vicious dunks.

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