TALKING IT OUT: Paul shares a word with his coach, Doc Rivers, during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers
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As an NBA rookie, Chris was his team’s player union representative. He later became a vice president and served on the Executive Committee. Now he’s president and has the task of restoring order to a union that fired longtime executive director Billy Hunter in February 2012 because of questionable business practices.

“Taking on this role was all about trying to make things better instead of stepping back and saying, ‘I’m a part of this league, I’m a part of this union, but I don’t want to have anything to do with it,’ ” Chris says. “I feel like I, along with our Executive Committee and other players, have an opportunity to shape and mold this thing for the players that come behind us.”

Chris will address the union as a whole when the players meet in New Orleans during NBA All-Star Weekend, Feb. 14-16. Chris, who was the most valuable player of the 2013 All-Star Game, will be returning to New Orleans, where he played the first six years of his career. He will likely play in this year’s game if his injury has healed.

Photography by Kyle Christy
Chris has many more All-Star appearances ahead of him, but don’t expect the guy who signed a five-year, $108 million contract last July to play another decade. He doesn’t like being away from his children, son ­Christopher II and daughter Camryn, 18 months.

“There’s no value in having all of the money in the world if you don’t have the love and respect from your kids,” he says. “One thing you can never fool your kids on is time. When you have kids, you can buy them this and buy them that but they want your time.”

That’s why on this particular day, Chris was late arriving to the event he hosted. He stepped to the stage to greet the crowd but first apologized to the kids for his tardiness. Little Chris had his first basketball game, he told them. No way proud papa was going to miss that.

“It was the coolest thing just to see the smile on his face,” Chris says.

Family will always come first with him.

“I love to put smiles on kids’ faces, but I also understand that one day this will all be over,” he says. “I won’t be able to shoot baskets and do crossovers my entire life. My family was there before that and my family will be there after that.” 

KELLY E. CARTER is a former Lakers beat writer for The Orange County Register. She co-wrote the New York Times best-seller Come To Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession with Venus Williams.