Leadership

NBA star Chris Paul was so nervous about his trade to the Rockets, he puked

In the past year, NBA point guard Chris Paul has dealt with a lot of change. The star basketball player made the move from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets in June after a high-profile trade — he had to adapt to a new town and new teammates.

And despite his athletic accolades, which include being a nine-time All Star and being ranked third in NBA history with a career average of 9.9 assists per game, Paul tells CNBC Make It that he was anxious.

So anxious he puked.

Houston Rockets Guard Chris Paul looks on before an NBA game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 28, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Brian Rothmuller | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
Houston Rockets Guard Chris Paul looks on before an NBA game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers on February 28, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA.

"Everyone always thinks us athletes, we've always got it together. That's a lie," Paul says. "I was throwing up at [a] 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 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."

But Paul realized the best way to cope with change is to embrace it.

"Sometimes change is hard, but it can be good," Paul tells CNBC Make It. "What it does is, it brings a challenge.

"It's a challenge — and if you're competitive and you want to do something you've never done, you have to accept the challenge, and I think that's what has helped me thus far."

One challenge Paul faced was being drafted to a team that already had another star point guard, James Harden. Harden and Paul "are two of the most notoriously ball-dominant players in the league," noted The Ringer in October. But the transition has been a success: The Rockets won the first 15 games Paul played for them, the Los Angeles Times reported in January, and SB Nation dubbed Paul and Harden "dynamite together."

Bob Levey | Getty Images

"I was always the leader — I am still a leader on our team," says Paul, "but your leadership style may have to change," he explains.

And that's true whether you're an NBA star or not.

"You know what's funny is, everybody always uses the word 'change' and when you hear 'change,' I think people think changing location or changing jobs," Paul says.

"But anytime something happens like that, one thing that may have to change is you.

"You may have to change the way you view things, the way you talk, the way you approach different things," he says.

Now, not only is Paul flourishing on the basketball court, but he also seems to be adjusting well to life in Texas, and he's actively involved in his new community. In partnership with NBA Cares and State Farm, he helped open a new library at a middle school in Houston, and recently dressed in a cowboy ensemble to celebrate Go Texan Day, in celebration of the start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

"They always say that you can't go somewhere you've never been without doing something you've never done," says Paul. "I've always been a firm believer...."

—Video by Richard Washington

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