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Clippers' Chris Paul fondly remembers his Oklahoma City days

Before there was Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, there was Chris Paul and the Hornets. The Clippers star shares his memories of Oklahoma City and his NBA early days.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: February 22, 2014 at 4:53 pm •  Published: February 22, 2014
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photo - NBA BASKETBALL, PRE-SEASON, PRESEASON: Hornets head coach Byron Scott talks to Chris Paul (3) in the first quarter, during the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets exhibition game against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, October 23, 2005, in Oklahoma City.  by Bill Waugh/The Oklahoman.
NBA BASKETBALL, PRE-SEASON, PRESEASON: Hornets head coach Byron Scott talks to Chris Paul (3) in the first quarter, during the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets exhibition game against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, October 23, 2005, in Oklahoma City. by Bill Waugh/The Oklahoman.

Chris Paul remembers so fondly his days in Oklahoma City that he still knows exactly how much his rent was.

“I paid $750 a month,” he said.

The house where he lived during his first two years in the NBA — and the NBA's first two years in Oklahoma City — was in the Bristol Park addition in Edmond. It was less than a mile from the Hornets' practice facility, and according to Paul, proximity was its most redeeming quality.

“You could walk in the front door and fall out the back,” he said. “It used to smell like dog food all the time because when the wind blew, the dog food plant was right there.

“But I loved it.”

Paul returns to OKC this weekend. He and the Clippers have a high noon showdown with the Thunder. But even though he'll be wearing the wrong team's jersey, any time that Paul comes back to town we are reminded of the first time he was here.

So, too, is Paul.

Players from that first season the Hornets were in town pass our way occasionally. Chris Andersen was in town earlier this week with the Heat, J.R. Smith earlier this month with the Knicks and David West earlier this season with the Pacers. Then, of course, there are regular appearances from Desmond Mason, who is no longer playing but lives in Oklahoma City. But no player hearkens those days quite like CP3.

The Hornets relocated after Hurricane Katrina flooded them out of New Orleans and immediately started winning hearts. Maybe any team would've won over Oklahoma City, so eager to be a big-league hamlet were we, but the Hornets didn't take any chances.

The team sent players out into the community every day, it seemed. They popped up at schools and churches and businesses. They signed autographs. They shook hands. They posed for pictures.

If you'd have called the Hornets and asked CP3 to come to your 6-year-old's birthday party, I'm pretty sure they'd have tried to make it happen.

When those of us at Oklahoman world headquarters started planning our preseason section on the Hornets, we decided we wanted to photograph every player. And what's more, we wanted to pose them at landmarks all around town. Ford Center. State Capitol. Bricktown Canal. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Oklahoma City Zoo.

The Hornets didn't bat an eye.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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