Chris Paul Seizes Second Shot at Superstar Marriage

Sports Illustrated Story by Lee Jenkins


Lee Jenkins - Two nights before the 2008 playoffs the New Orleans Hornets gathered in a ballroom at Harrah's, a hotel and casino on the edge of the French Quarter, to toast 56 wins and conceive 16 more. It felt like a rehearsal dinner, players flanked by wives or girlfriends, everybody encouraged to stand and speak. Point guard Chris Paul took his college sweetheart from Wake Forest, Jada Crawley, and even she shared a few words. But the most enduring speech was delivered by small forward Morris Peterson, who had come to New Orleans after seven forgettable seasons in Toronto. "Cherish this team, this opportunity," Peterson said. "You may think it's always going to be this way, and you're always going to have a shot. But I've been around the NBA a long time, and you don't always have a shot. Things happen in this league. Injuries happen. Trades happen. You don't know if you'll ever be in this position again."

Paul, then 22 and in his third season with the team, eyed Peterson as if the vet had ordered too many Sazeracs. Man, listen, Paul thought, I'm going to win MVP in two weeks and then I'm going to win it again. I'm going to have a shot at this every year. He was the successor to Steve Nash, a mantle that consumed him since he was a rookie, stewing all night before an early-season showdown against the Suns. He wanted that game desperately, but coach Byron Scott subbed him out for his usual rest at the start of the fourth quarter while Mike D'Antoni rode Nash, and a 14-point lead vanished in what felt like seven seconds. Paul fumed, but 22 months later the Hornets were surging and the Suns fading, following the career arcs of their incandescent point guards. I'm Steve now, Paul told himself, and only the most manic Deron Williams devotee could argue.  CONTINUE FULL ARTICLE BY SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S LEE JENKINS HERE

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