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Homecoming: Chris Paul

Earlier tonight, ESPN aired an episode of "Homecoming with Rick Reilly" featuring Chris Paul.  The segment was filmed in Wait Chapel on Wake Forest's campus... and it was obviously filmed before mid-November, because Byron Scott was in the audience and actually called upon to answer a few questions.

If you've never seen the show, it's an hour-long program that takes famous sports figures back to their hometowns (hence the title) and delves in their life stories (hence the appeal).

Chris Paul had his family (mother Robin, father Charles, brother C.J., a few aunts, his grandmother, some former coaches, and 2000 fans) in the audience.  They were called upon at various points to give anecdotes about the Hornets superstar.  A really enjoyable watch, all in all.  Some notes after the jump...

- Rick Reilly opened talking about CP's talents that were evident even at a young age.  He mentioned that ESPN had some old footage, and the screen flashed to a (very, very) young Chris Paul performing a dance with several other little kids to The Temptations' "My Girl."

- Right after that, ESPN showed some home video of CP in a few biddy basketball games.  Even as a 7-yr-old, he was -- as many loved ones described him throughout the night -- fiesty.  Two decades ago, he was pushing fast breaks following a hard-fought rebound... he was following his own misses to put up easy layups... and he was, of course, tossing assists across the court.

- In a pre-taped segment, Reilly went to Paul's childhood home and asked the NBA star to show him around.  CP led the camera crew to the backyard basketball court where he and brother CJ would play 1-on-1 and 2-on-0 (taking on imaginary players, usually Jordan and Pippen).  While there, Reilly dared Chris Paul to take a shot from approximately 50 ft away (and from a piece of land higher than the backboard).  Would you care to guess if CP managed to nail the shot on the first try?

- I'm sure everyone reading this blog is familiar with the story of Chris Paul scoring 61 points in honor of his grandfather just a day after a group of teens robbed and murdered the man.  Some back story for those who may not be familiar: Chris was incredibly close to his grandfather and had the first game of his senior season (in high school) one day after his grandfather's death.  On the way to the game, CP asked his aunt what he could do to honor the late Nathaniel Jones, and Chris's aunt suggested he should score one point for every year of life.  After initially thinking she was crazy for the suggestion, CP went out and did it.  With 59 points, he drove coast to coast and hit a layup as he was fouled.  He made the shot, giving him exactly 61 points.  He went to the line and intentionally missed the FT before stumbling to the sidelines and falling into his parents' arms.  (As someone who lost his father at a young age, I can't even imagine what it would be like to re-live that day... much less to do so on national television.)

- A little later in the program, Reilly asked Paul to show him around West Forsyth High School (CP's alma mater).  They were walking into the gym where, unbeknownst to CP, a large crowd of students and teachers was waiting.  The principal asked CP to say a few words and had the basketball coach talk for a while.  Apparently, Chris never lost a game in the building throughout his high school career.

- Before CP left his high school gym, they had a current West Forsyth player guard him for a quick halfcourt set.  CP dribbled at the top of the key and drove to the right for a banked lay-in.

- The rest of the broadcast focused on his college and professional career... and I think we all know the highlights of that.  The notables: led Wake Forest to an OT victory in his first ACC road game against UNC, got the team to the Sweet Sixteen in his rookie season, declared for the NBA draft after his sophomore year, drafted by the Hornets with the 4th pick in the 2005 draft (thank God for MIL/ATL/UTA), won NBA Rookie of the Year with 124 of 125 possible votes, spent two seasons displaced with the team due to Hurricane Katrina, returned to NOLA, saved basketball in the city, led the Hornets past the Mavs and pushed the Spurs to the limit in the 2008 playoffs, broke the record for consecutive games with at least one steal...