by Steve Geller, Steve@wwl.com,posted Mar 22 2012 9:10AM
Not like there isn't already enough drama going on in this city's sports scene right now, but tonight marks the return of Chris Paul to the New Orleans Arena. It his first trip here since the league owned Hornets traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers before the season started. The trade, if you remember, was a huge soap opera in itself.
Well, because of the NBA lockout, this year's schedule has been a bit out of out of whack. This evening marks the first match-up that New Orleans has had with the OTHER team from L.A.
Paul is still playing like the CP3 fans here fell quickly in love with in 2005 when the Hornets drafted him in the first round. He's averaging around 20 points per game with 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
The big question is... How will New Orleans fans react to CP3's return in an opposing uniform?
It was one of the worst kept secrets that Paul wanted to be traded out of New Orleans. He just wasn't happy with the direction the franchise was going since the team's playoff series loss in 2008, when they took the San Antonio Spurs to game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
The first move I feel really soured CP3 towards this Hornets franchise was the trading of one of his best friends Tyson Chandler in '09. When "The Crescent City Connection" was together and in action, the team was a whole lotta fun to watch and the Arena was electric.
It wasn't all ice cream and puppy dogs though. Chandler's health ultimately led to him being traded. In fact he was originally dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but a failed physical sent him back to New Orleans. Five months later the Charlotte Bobcats would trade Emeka Okafor to the Hornets for Chandler.
From then on, basketball in New Orleans was never really the same. A few questionable contracts and draft picks that didn't work out left Chris Paul frustrated. He and David West were still a dynamic duo, but it wasn't enough to carry the team far in the postseason. The bad contracts also crippled the team from being able to add any other key pieces.
Things look to be heading in the right direction now with general manager Dell Demps and head coach Monty Williams leading the way, but the damage was done for Paul, and he just wanted a fresh start. Honestly, can you really blame him?
You can never say that he ever gave less than 100% on the court, and he also contributed off the hardwood as well. CP3 did countless amounts of charity work for the community and kids around the city are still thanking him for his programs and donated basketball courts.
Just like in any failed relationship, I know you're still hurt Hornets fans. Nobody wants to be rejected. But I say for at least the player introductions, which by the way will be done by movie star Samuel L. Jackson tonight, cheer for Chris Paul. That's right I said cheer him.
Remember the good times and how he was the face of the Hornets franchise for 6 solid years. Even if you weren't a basketball nut, CP3 probably made you turn a few games on. Be the bigger fan and show some appreciation.
After tip-off though, feel free to let out you're pent up anger and pain. Boo CP3 every time he touches the ball. After all is his is the enemy now.