The MarketWatch Q&A: NBA All-Star Chris Paul on what he looks for in an investment, competing with LeBron James, and his favorite possession


Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul is many things. He’s an NBA All-Star and new teammate of Kevin Durant, but he’s also an investor, author, commercial pitchman and dad.

Paul, 37, recently published a children’s book titled “Basketball Dreams” that he says is somewhat of a “love letter” to his late grandfather.

In our early morning interview, the unexpectedly talkative Paul discussed, among other topics, why he’ll be competing with LeBron James even after they retire, and the one item he would run in and grab if his house was on fire.

MarketWatch: You’ve just released a new book. Why write a book, and why a children’s book?

Chris Paul: The first book I wrote was back in 2008. And at the time, I wasn’t a father yet. I think it’s the importance of just making sure kids dream. In the story it talks about hard work, my dream of wanting to be like my grandfather and eventually being a basketball player. It’s about making sure kids know it’s okay to dream.

MarketWatch: Have your kids seen the book? Have they given it the stamp of approval?

Paul: Oh yes. All the little details of the book were amazing. And I’ll tell you this, though, the audiobook, I think it’s what made it more special because my kids actually recorded a version of it.

MarketWatch: I wanted to ask you about retirement. You don’t strike me as a person who wants to just sit on a beach when he retires. What does post-basketball life look like for you?

Paul: That’s a good question.

MarketWatch: I don’t mean to get too existential — I know its early in the morning.

Paul: No, no, it’s cool. But it’s something that I don’t think about much to tell you truth because I’m still just so in it. One thing I do know, is that when I do retire, I’m still going to be involved in business. I have production company, I have all these different things going on. I think the thing I look most forward to is actually being a dad. I think my wife does an amazing job right now. She takes the kids here, there, to every event. And I think the hardest part for me is that I don’t get the chance to do that, so that’s the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to is actually being present.

‘One thing I do know, is that when I do retire, I’m still going to be involved in business.’

MarketWatch: Other basketball stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant say they want to own an NBA team when they are done playing. Does that interest you?

Paul: No question. Being the president of the (players) union for eight years, and knowing all the intricacies of teams, of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), of everything about the NBA, I think that would be a positive transition into ownership of a team.

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MarketWatch: Michael Jordan is the only former player who is a majority owner, right? That would be cool, in the 2030s if you and LeBron can battle it out again as owners.

Paul: (laughs) It would be amazing. Like I said, I’ve had the opportunity to play so I feel like I know the business from all different aspects.

MarketWatch: Speaking of LeBron, what did you think of him breaking the scoring record? Is this record ever going to be broken again?

Paul: I think it’s going to be really hard to do. Another record like that is John Stockton’s assist record. I think ‘Bron set this bar so high that I don’t really see anybody coming through breaking it because not only do you have to be unbelievably good, but you have to be healthy and be able to do it for a long time.

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MarketWatch: What’s the best financial advice that you’ve ever been given?

Paul: The 70/30 rule as far as what you bring in and what you spend. I think the biggest thing that I’ve always paid attention to especially as a professional athlete, it’s understanding that I will not play forever. When I came in as a young player, I tried to make sure I was living off my endorsements. I think the hardest thing for people in general is making sure that you don’t give into peer pressure and everything else that is going on around you.

MarketWatch: Peer pressure of what?

Paul: It’ not just athletes, but a lot of times people try to keep up, right? So what happens is, you’ll be a young guy in a locker room and you see a veteran NBA player driving around in a Rolls-Royce and the young guys think they can do it too. Just making sure you stay true to who you are, and not trying to make it a competition with people around you.

MarketWatch: How do you like to invest your money?

Paul: I like to invest in things I believe in. When you’re younger and you come into this league, you try to do sponsorship deals, but as I got older, I realized these need to be partnerships and equity-based deals. And so that’s what I really like to be involved in. It could be tech, it could be sports. I’m part owner of a cricket team.

MarketWatch: What’s one thing you don’t mind splurging on?

Paul: The one thing I want to splurge on is an experience.

MarketWatch: What’s an experience you recently went on?

Paul: Last summer my family and I went on a boat for a week and then we did a week in Paris and London. That’s the biggest thing that I learned is that if it’s an experience with my family and my kids, something that you know we’ll have memories of and we won’t forget — these experiences are what really makes life what it is.

‘You have to realize that you’re not just investing in the idea, but investing in that person. If that person isn’t driven and focused, then your investment is going to go to shit.’

MarketWatch: What’s your favorite possession? If your house was on fire, and you can run inside and get just one thing?

Paul: That’s funny man. This is great I haven’t heard some of these questions in a long time. The answer to that is I have the ball I scored 61 points in when I was in high school, the day after my grandfather was murdered. So I have that ball and that would be the thing I get.

MarketWatch: Have you made any big money mistakes in your life?

Paul: Absolutely.

MarketWatch: Let’s hear em!

Paul: One of the things that people always say if they got a big sum of money? Everybody always says ‘I’d invest it’. But most people don’t even know what that means.

I think a mistake that I made was sometimes people will come to you with amazing, unbelievable ideas. ‘Do this, do this.’ And then I invest my money into it. You have to realize that you’re not just investing in the idea, but investing in that person. If that person isn’t driven and focused, then your investment is going to go to shit. I learned not to invest in just an idea but the person that is going to be operating [the business].

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