Paul counting on new-look Hornets to play with more urgency
Chris Paul believes the Hornets need to develop a stronger killer instinct
Paul spent three days in New Orleans teaching basketball skills to kids
The star point guard describes LeBron James as being like a brother to him
Life for Chris Paul is never slow. The summer is filled with basketball camps, strenuous workouts and a trip to China to promote his affiliation with Brand Jordan shoes and sportswear. And after that, there's a full slate of exhibition, regular-season and (he hopes) playoff games to navigate in a brutally competitive Western Conference.
The 24-year-old Hornets point guard recently found a few minutes after his Copeland's Chris Paul Basketball Camp to share his thoughts on the Hornets' big offseason trade, his relationship with LeBron James and more.
SI.com: Preseason darlings in the eyes of many, the Hornets struggled to find their groove last season. Can you put your finger in what was missing? Did the team start reading its press clippings?
Chris Paul: I think we all need to get a little bit more killer [instinct] in us. We have to want it more. That's something that we'll talk about in training camp. Everybody has to know it doesn't start when the playoffs start; it starts from Day One -- that's when we have to build our identity. Coach [Byron] Scott always says if everybody comes back 1 percent better, that will make our team better. So I'll try to do my part and come back better than I was last year.
SI.com: How have you approached that goal this summer?
CP: I'm not really doing anything on the court right now, but I've been working out all summer, just trying to make sure my body is in top shape when the season comes around.
CP: T.C. was like a brother to me. I've been with him since my second year in the league. We've both helped each other take our games to another level. I'm definitely going to miss him.
On the other hand, I'm excited about Emeka. He's a great shot-blocker, has a post presence offensively. Hopefully he'll fit right in and we won't miss a beat.
SI.com: Will you play a similar style with Emeka as you did with Tyson?
CP: Hopefully. Tyson is a bit more athletic. Emeka is stronger, a power guy. There definitely will need to be an adjustment period, but hopefully we can get that straightened out in training camp.
SI.com: Did the Hornets consult you about the possibility of trading for Okafor?
CP: At one point earlier in the summer they did, but I found out about the trade when everybody else did. Our front office does a great job. That's their job to pick out pieces to help our team.
CP: I'm not sure. That would have brought two other guys who are really good players, too. But that's part of the past. Now I'm just thinking about Emeka and what he can do to help our team.
SI.com: Despite the trade, there have been many reports about the effect of the economy on the Hornets. Any concerns about the team trying to cut costs in the bad economy?
CP: I control what I can control and [the Hornets' decisions] are something I can't even get close to controlling. Whatever 15 guys are there with me at training camp, I guarantee we can compete for a championship.
SI.com: Any chance you would try to force your way out if things go south with the team?
CP: I am not trying to get out of my contract with the Hornets. I love it here in New Orleans and this is where I want to be.
SI.com: Obviously, you'll be a big part of how Emeka fits in, as you are with all the Hornets. As the leader of this team, how do you determine when to ride a teammate and when he needs a boost?
CP: Everyone on the team is different, so you have to approach guys in different ways. Some you can yell at and get on them, some you have to tread more carefully. The key to the whole thing is for everyone to understand everyone is on the same level. If I can get on someone about a certain situation, they've got to be able to get on me about a certain situation.
SI.com: It's tough sometimes playing for a former player. After four years, how is your relationship with Coach Scott?
CP: I think I know him as well as anybody and I'm sure he knows me as well as anybody. I can talk to coach about anything; he can talk to me about anything.
You're always going to have issues, but people get into problems when one person wants to do something and another person wants to do something else, and they don't talk about it. But anytime coach and I have issues, we always talk about it, and at the end of the day we usually come out with something good.
SI.com: Almost everyone came back from the 2008 Beijing Olympics talking about how they learned the value of hard work and sacrifice. How do you impart the lessons you learned to the rest of Hornets?
CP: Aw, man. When you're playing with that Olympic team, it's a totally different game than we're playing with our NBA team. The rules are different, the teammates are different.
I tell [my Hornets teammates] about it, about how it all starts with practice and training camp and stuff like that. But your actions speak louder than words. You still have to play the game. Talk is cheap.
SI.com: A number of your Olympic teammates are due to be free agents a year from now. Was there much talk about playing together in the NBA?
CP: Our whole team talked about playing together. But we know the possibilities of that are slim.
SI.com: You've mentioned elsewhere how close you are to fellow Olympian LeBron James. How would you describe the relationship?
CP: He's like my brother. Not only are we close, our families are close. Our girlfriends sometimes talk more than we do.
We talk about everything. We discuss how the season's going, if a trade takes place what you think about it. That's what you do with your friends.
SI.com: It seems you've made a few more friends this year by hosting a summer camp with Copeland's restaurant for 475 kids in New Orleans. What do you hope to accomplish with the camp?
CP: I try to reach out to as many kids as possible, tell them my story, that dreams can come true, and give them an outlet. We want them to have fun. They can tell me anything they've been thinking about the whole season.
And kids this age, they'll say anything. They always want to challenge me in a game or in shooting, so we have a lot of fun. On the last day, we let them go get their parents and we all play a shooting contest together.
SI.com: In addition to being one of the league's top point guards, you also handle yourself pretty well in bowling shoes, even hosting a celebrity invitational in September. How'd you get into the sport?
CP: I used to go with my dad when I was younger and it sort of grew on me ever since. Now I'll bowl every now and then during the season, but more often I'll go during the offseason.
SI.com: What's your average?
CP: I'm in the high 100s.
SI.com: Any other good NBA bowlers?
SI.com: Any time for a vacation?
CP: Not yet. After I come back from China [where he spent a few days last week], I have another camp and then I hope to get away. I don't know where I'm going yet. If anybody has any ideas, I'm open for suggestions.
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