Entrepreneurs

NBA star Chris Paul reveals the best career advice Jay-Z gave him

Making big decisions when it comes to the course of your career can be nerve-wracking. And when you've got hundreds of millions of dollars on the line — and millions of fans following your every move — it can be even harder. Such was the case for NBA star Chris Paul.

In June, after spending six seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, the 32-year-old point guard's high-profile move to the Houston Rockets made sports headlines everywhere and sparked responses from basketball stars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Such monumental career decisions are hard to make alone. So before finalizing his decision, who did the hoops star tap for advice? His parents, wife, son…and Jay-Z.

"Jay-Z was one of the people that I had an opportunity to talk to about the decision I was making," Paul tells CNBC Make It about the music mogul, who's real name is Sean Carter, adding that he also turned to Disney CEO Bob Iger for input.

"Those guys are faced with big decisions day in and day out, and so I just wanted to hear from them how they went through situations and what's changed for them," he explains.

"Probably some of the best advice came from Jay," because there were some big money issues, says Paul. (Carter has the top spot on Forbes' ranking of hip hop's wealthiest artists of 2018, with a net worth of $900 million).

Paul had to decide whether to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Clippers and go as a free agent, or to just let the team trade him to the Rockets — a choice that had complicated financial ramifications.

But Jay-Z reminded Paul that, when it came down to it, it wasn't about the money.

"What Jay said was, 'You know, whether you sign a $200 million dollar contract there or a $120 million, $150 million contract somewhere else, nothing compares to the price for happiness,'" says Paul, who ultimately allowed the Clippers to trade him so the team could get seven players in return. "He knows that if basketball isn't going well and isn't happy and fun, then the rest of my life isn't [either].

"First and foremost have to try to find your happiness and what makes you tick," says Paul, "and that'll push you to the next level."

Paul seems to have found that. It was reported that he had a rocky relationship with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, and he'd expressed disappointment in the Clippers' culture. With the Rockets, however, Paul told ESPN in December, "I've been on a team that won 17 games in a row, and it didn't feel like that. You know what I mean? Just because it's all about playing the right way, it's all about building."

Now, Paul's salary for 2017-18 is a little over $24.5 million. This summer, when he does become a free agent, he's eligible for a five-year, $205 million contract with the Rockets. In 2017, Forbes ranked Paul the ninth highest paid basketball player.

Still, the choice wasn't easy and the transition from the Clippers to the Rockets left Paul rattled. The day after he was traded to Houston, Paul had a photo shoot that he struggled to get through.

"Everyone always thinks us athletes, we've always got it together. That's a lie," Paul tells CNBC Make It. "I was throwing up at the photo shoot.

"I was out there taking pictures," Paul continues, "and I was like, 'Give me a second.' Boom. I ran out, threw up. Boom. Came back and acted like I had just taken a phone call. [It was] just the anxiety of knowing that there was a change that was coming."

Paul admits he was scared. "I had been living in L.A. for the past six years. The decision that I made was not only going to affect me, but my family, my kids, everybody around me. It was a big decision.

"Who would have known it's been one of the best things of my life."

Paul has a full life in many ways: Since his NBA debut in 2005, he's racked up achievements like being a nine-time All-Star and a 2013 All-Star MVP. He is ranked third in NBA history with a career average of 9.9 assists per game. He even won gold medals with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 summer Olympic Games.

Off the court, he has been the president of the National Basketball Players Association since 2013. He has numerous business ventures, including as a social impact investor in WTRMLN WTR, a cold-pressed watermelon juice company, which uses flawed melons that would normally be thrown away (Beyonce is also an investor). He's also partnered with State Farm, working with their "Exist to Assist" community program, which builds technology centers in underserved communities. Not to mention, he owns part of a professional bowling team.

Most importantly, Paul is a family man who does down-to-earth parenting things like hanging out with his kids on the couch and posing for a family photo on their first day of school. (His son, Chris Paul II, is 8 and his daughter, Camryn, is 5.)

"At the end of the day, your happiness is the most important thing," reiterates Paul. "And that is real. You can't buy that."

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