Six-Feet Nothing and the Point God

Chris Paul is 36 years old and just 6-feet tall. He was once poison in the NBA — one team gave away its draft picks just to be free from Paul’s contract. Today, having scored 41 points in Game 6 of the NBA semi-finals, Mr. Paul is known as the Point God.

Mr. Paul has led, what the Barometer tries to explain to students, a nonlinear life. He did not go from high school basketball star to college scholarship to the NBA. He played junior varsity basketball in high school. He had been on the varsity team as a bench warmer and went back to JV in order to play more. He went to Wake Forest for two years, and he was drafted into the NBA with a resulting unremarkable career. A decade and one-half later the Phoenix Suns and its ragtag club made a trade and got Mr. Paul. Mr. Paul has done for the Suns what he did for the JV teams — he leads so that others become better.

Michael Jordan carried bitterness around with him after he did not make varsity. Chris Paul saw it as a chance to play more and now, “the best thing that ever happened to me.” They sportscasters call him old. For the court he is ancient. But all those years mean that he has had more time on the court than any other player. He gained experience and calm. Humility from that JV background gives him the moral authority to lead. The Winston-Salem Chronicle described Mr. Paul in a headline about the success of his JV team, “Paul’s leadership, unselfish play set him apart in basketball.”

The linear life follows a pattern previously determined and documented as the path to success and goal achievement. Just because “everybody does it” does not mean it is the right or ethical path as we face ethical dilemmas in our lives. The same principle carries over into life generally. Sometimes the achievement arrives just because you took the road less traveled. The ragtag Suns have been operating at JV for many years, until Chris Paul. He makes everyone around him better.

Once in a great while, sports stories surprise us, pleasantly.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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