by Chris O’Leary/olearychris

As the 2009 portion of the ’09-10 season winds down, Chris Paul isn’t all smiles. True, the 24-year-old is averaging close to 21 points and 11 assists per game and can have his name batted around in the discussion of the league’s best point guard.

At the same time, his New Orleans Hornets are struggling. Two-dozen games into the season, the team has already had a coaching change and are currently sitting at 11-13 in a Western Conference that’s traditionally unkind to sub-.500 teams.

Ask him about what he’s had on his feet this season though, and it’s all love. Literally.

“I love it,” Paul says about the third installment of his CP3 line from Jordan Brand. “I’m a little biased, but I love the way that it forms to my foot and for all the cutting and stopping and moving that I do it’s got the stability that I need.”

Paul broke out the CP3 III last week in Sacramento against the Kings and has been wearing them on the court since. The Mardi Gras colorway he wore in that Kings game will hit stores first, dropping at House of Hoops locations on December 26 for $118. Two other makeups of the shoe, white/black/varsity red and black/orion blue/white, will release nationally on January 2 with the same $118 price tag.

cp3-iii-white-black-vred2There are a ton of performance features with the shoe, but the one that jumped out at me the most was the use of Podulon. The technology is inspired by the Independent Podular Suspension (IPS) system that was used in the Air Jordan XX, XX1 and XX2. Podulon is designed to keep giving you that fresh-out-the-box feeling that you get from a high-end shoe on the first wearing. Paul’s shoe is the first Jordan Brand sneaker to use the technology.

Just about every ball player with a signature shoe has elements of personalization put into their sneaks, but Paul and Jordan Brand senior designer Jason Mayden went to town this year. The duo made sure that the shoe tells you something about its namesake.

The shoe uses hornet inspiration (the actual insect, not the Hornets) in the honeycomb-styled herringbone pattern on the sole of the shoe and even has a stinger that runs down the top of the tongue. The honeycombed pattern on the sole actually serves what JB calls, “360-degree traction” that helps an agile player like Paul on the court.

A family crest stretches across the upper of the shoe, paying tribute to Paul’s mother, father, brother and his late grandfather. The lace tips of the shoe have “336″ — the area code for Winston-Salem — inscribed in them. The shoe’s outsole has a bowling reference, shouting out the other hardwood game that Paul excels at.

I had some time on the phone with Chris Paul on Thursday. Here’s our conversation on the shoe, with some notes for the tech-junkies at the bottom of the interview as well.

SLAM: How does the Podulon technology work for someone like you? Do you wear a fresh pair of shoes for every game anyway?
Chris Paul: I go through a pair of shoes pretty quick because of all the cutting and stopping, but the biggest thing about the shoe, and me and Jay (Jason Mayden at Jordan Brand), we made sure that when I put the shoe on you don’t really have to break it in, you know?

You know how everyone always says they need to wear their shoes around for a little while to make sure they’re broken in? One thing I noticed about the shoe was that as soon as I put it on it was comfortable. It was exactly the way I needed it to be at the start of the game.

SLAM: Do you have a favorite colorway yet?
CP: Yeah, probably the Mardi Gras edition.

SLAM: There have been pictures online of a version of the shoe that meshes with the Air Jordan III.
CP: Where’d you see that at?

SLAM: It’s been on a few sites.
CP: Are you talking about the shoe that’s a mix between my three and MJ’s three?

SLAM: Yeah. Is that something you’d maybe wear for All-Star this year?
CP: SChris Paulomething for all-star? I’m not wearing that for all-star…what site are you on? (laughs)

SLAM: You wouldn’t wear that for All-Star? Is it a special edition or something?
CP: I’ll probably wear that one at the World Championships this summer. That’s just for you to know though.

SLAM: Okay. So, you’re three shoes into this thing now. How has the line changed in that time?
CP: It’s changed a lot, it’s changed a whole lot. I think part of that comes from me and Jay knowing each other so well now. Whenever it’s time to start working on the next shoe, he knows me. When he gives me a phone call or anything like that, he’s like, ‘What do you think about this with the shoe?’ And I’m like, ‘You read my mind.’

I think the shoe shows that. And when I’m playing on the court, performing on the court, there are times where I’ll do a move and I tell the trainers, I’m like, ‘Man, these shoes allow me to do what I need to do.’

SLAM: There are a lot of personal details in this shoe, do you want to talk about that?
CP: There are a lot of different things on the shoe and I think that’s what made the one and the two and the three so special to me. It’s always letting people know more about my story and who I am.

On the side of the shoe you see the honeycombs, and I play for the New Orleans Hornets and you know, on the tongue you have the stinger and on the side of the shoe you have all of the different crests that represent my life and my family.

SLAM: How does that come about? Is it something where you go to them and say you want that?
CP: Jay already knows how special my family is to me and when we can incorporate them in different ways on the shoe, he knows I’m gonna love that.

When he first came to me with the crests, I was blown away. I was blown away with what each one symbolizes. I think it’s pretty special because to someone else they just look like designs, but once you get deeper into the shoe and start to understand what’s really going on, you realize that it’s a part of me.

I think that helps me when I go on the court to play because I know my family is with me always anyway, but now they’re really with me.Jordan family Crest

Performance features of the CP3 III
• Podulon technology in the midsole.
• Varied herringbone traction pattern allows athlete to have 360-degree traction while aiding in quick stops and starts.
• Rubber wrap extends up the medial outsole to protect against toe drag.
• Raised outsole tip, forefoot and lateral heel for increased stability during sharp cutting movements.
• In mold compression molded phylon heel pod provides cushioning for high impact landing.
• An internal shank provides midfoot support.
• Achilles pads in interior reinforce foot lockdown and comfort.
• Lightweight construction helps athlete stay quick.
• Combination of leathers and synthetic leathers in the upper offer optimal support for dynamic on-court movement.

JB reminders/updates
After much date jostling, the Jordan XI Space Jam will in fact be releasing on December 23. Also keep in mind that the white/red Jordan XII retro will drop on Dec. 19. That’s Saturday. As in tomorrow.