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.

Best of them all was Andersen. We wanted to take his picture at the zoo. What's more, we wanted to surround “The Birdman” with birds.

Done.

Birdman not only posed with some of his feathered friends but also let about half a dozen brightly colored Lorikeets perch on his shoulders and head. The shot remains a favorite around our sports department.

No one was a better sport in those photo shoots than Andersen, but Paul ran a close second. He was the fourth overall pick in the draft, and after some stellar games in the preseason, the buzz around him had only grown.

But the way Paul acted, you'd have thought he was a role player from Pocasset. He was game for anything. He posed in front of the arena with J.R. Smith, then went to the capitol and posed some more with Smith. Then, Paul did some individual shots at the capitol.

And he was smiling all the way.

It's possible that Paul already recognized the good situation into which he'd been dropped. Preseason games in Oklahoma City had been big-time events. Fans packed the joint for glorified scrimmages, and that just wasn't normal.

Paul still remembers the energy on those nights.

“Preseason games were crazy,” he said. “Every game we played, I’ve never seen fan support like that.”

CP3 has become an enemy of the state in the years since. Anyone not wearing Thunder blue in this state now is an adversary. What’s more, the super athletic Clippers pose as much a threat to the Thunder’s title hopes as almost any team in the Western Conference, and Paul is the engine that makes them go.

Because of all of that, Paul is bound to hear it from folks inside The Peake on Sunday.

But just so you know, Thunder fans, CP3 touts you every chance he gets. He often reminds people that his first two years in the league were spent in Oklahoma City, and he always says nice things about those days.

“Nothing like it,” he said. “Nothing like it.”

CP3 is reminded of those good days whenever he comes to town. We should be, too.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni Carlson can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

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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