During this year's All-Star Weekend, Chris Paul returned to his old stomping grounds to run a master class where he continued both the Paul family and State Farm tradition of passing the heritage of the assist to the next generation.
So, what did attendees learn from this master assister? Let's review.
1. The most important part of running an offense is making sure everyone thinks and communicates as a unit.
Paul stressed the importance of letting teammates know where they need to be in order to turn your passes into points. It worked for the Ghostbusters, and it works on the basketball court.
Having some stylish kicks — like the exclusive Jordan CP3.VII in @CliffPaul argyle, which State Farm gave to participants of the CP3 Foundation after-school program and to State Farm volunteers at the NBA Day of Service — definitely doesn't hurt. Assisters may not be showy on the court, but their feet are another story.
2. Prepare as much as possible in practice and run through your team drills.
No one can be of assistance to others if they're unprepared. And don't tell Allen Iverson, but practice is crucial to keeping one's cool under pressure. Over the course of any game, Paul can expect to have defenders all over him, and his years of experience have taught him how to handle the pressure without panicking. Those are the best times to look to teammates for help, and the Master Class attendees were drilled on how to make decisions when the opponent is closing in.
3. Embrace the fundamentals and hone your skills.
Knowing when to opt for a chest pass versus a bounce pass can be the difference between a win and a loss. So Coach Paul showed his attentive students how to do both. But even a player like Chris Paul, who's respected for his assisting prowess, knows that sometimes you simply have to take matters into your own hands (as his career 18.6 points per game attest). That's why he held a special drill to teach the class how to execute offensive skills like a reverse layup.
We all know that players who score the points get the glory — Wilt Chamberlain's record 100-point game is well-documented, but there's no iconic photo of Scott Skiles holding up a sign that says "30" after his single-game assist record back in 1990. Master assisters don't do their job because it's glamorous; they do it because someone has to be selfless in order for a team to thrive. As Chris Paul proved last weekend, some people were simply born to assist. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Now that you've got your on-the-court assist, head here to learn more about how State Farm can assist you in your endeavors off the court.
Craig Lowell is a Brooklyn-based writer. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Deadspin, NBA TV, TheFanHub, TheSportsPost, and the North Adams Transcript.