New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul took media questions at his annual basketball camp today, the second of the three-day camp. Paul, who finished runner-up for MVP this year, was excited to be back in OKC, where he played his first two seasons. He talked about wanting to keep the camp going and went as far as to say he’s hoping the Sonics come to OKC just so it gives him a chance to return to the city up to twice each year during the regular season. Here’s the entire transcript of his press conference.
Q: What does it mean for you to be back in OKC?
A: It’s great to be back. Three days of camp. First time back since our preseason game here, and what I came back for is what it’s all about, the kids.
Q: Why do you want to keep coming back here and doing the camp?
A: It gives me an opportunity to come back to the city first of all. After my first year, I wondered if I’d do a camp. As long as the kids are going to come and have fun and enjoy it I’m going to do the same. So hopefully even next year I can continue to do it because I love to come out here.
Q: Have you had a break this summer?
A: Not yet. This is part of my break right here. I just try to get away and have fun with these kids and the counselors. That’s what it’s all about.
Q: Is making the Olympics your next goal?
A: Yeah, to find out if I make the Olympic team. Hopefully I find out sometime this week. If I do that will be the next task.
Q: Are you keeping an eye on the Sonics news and their possible move to OKC?
A: It was on the news the night before last. I think I saw Gary Payton there and stuff like that. Me, I actually kind of hope the Sonics come here because it would give me an opportunity to come back to the city. Hopefully we’ll play them twice a year here in
Q: What do you think about the long-term viability of OKC?
A: For the two years we were here it was unbelievable. So there’s no doubt about it that
Oklahoma City can support the team. So whatever happens it’s going to be fun.
Q: Would it be hard for you to play here as a visitor?
A: It would be tough. But hopefully everyone here knows who to root for if they do come here and we play here. Hopefully we’ll see more Hornets jerseys than it would be Sonics jerseys.
Q: Is it hard for you to watch the NBA Finals?
A: Yeah. I just don’t. I watch maybe two games of the Finals. I’ll probably watch the game tonight. I guess as time goes on it gets a little bit better, but that’s where I want to be next year.
Q: Were you surprised that Team USA decided to not have a tryout for the Olympic team?
A: Yeah I was surprised. I was actually starting to train, trying to get ready for it. I guess they’re just going to call you now and let you know if you made it. Either way now, I’m good.
Q:Have the Olympics been a dream of yours?
A: I’d definitely love to play in the Olympics. It’s a great opportunity, so I’m hoping they call and say I’m on the team. But if not it’ll just be a little more rest and I’ll get ready for next year.
Q: How disappointed would you be if you didn’t make it?
A: Somewhat disappointed, but at the same time it’s all about the
U.S.A. winning the gold. And like I said, rest isn’t bad, ever. I could go either way. Of course I want to play, but it won’t be the end of the world if not.
Q: Would it be weird for you to be second in MVP voting and after the great year you had to not be on that team?
A: Not necessarily. My rookie year when I played on the team, Gilbert Arenas got cut. And he’s one of, and still is one of the best point guards in the NBA. I mean, we’re talking about NBA players here. So anybody who doesn’t make it, you really can’t be too mad because it’s another guy in the NBA that’s making the team over you.
Q: Do you think you’re going to continue to do this camp in OKC?
A: I hope so. Even if the team does come here next year I would hope that I could still do my camp. But it would be something that I’ll definitely talk about and try to get some feedback from the kids to see if they still want me to.
Q: Do you notice that there are still a lot of Hornets fans around here?
A: Yeah. A lot of these kids are three-year campers. A lot of these kids I still remember their faces. They’ve been here since the first time I did it. When you have kids that have showed that type of commitment to coming to the camp and actually have a good time, it makes me want to continue to do it. I think at the first camp over at Heritage Hall, probably about 75 percent of the campers were third-year campers. So it’s crazy.
Q: Did you do camp as a kid?
A: Yeah, I did. But I don’t think I ever went to any NBA camps. My parents probably weren’t having it. I was going to summer camp at the Y and stuff like that. I just played all day every day.
Q: How important is it for you to actually be here? Sometimes you get camps with big names on them and the player isn’t there. But it’s important that you’re here, right?
A: Yeah. I’ve always been like that. If my name is going to be on the camp I want to be here. I don’t want to just come back and show my face. It gives the kids an opportunity. That’s what they come for. They want to see me. They want to find out why I do some of the things I do and that’s what I’m here for.