- Last Updated: 1:00 AM, May 16, 2012
- Posted: 1:17 AM, May 15, 2012
HOOP DU JOUR
I love Chris Paul’s posture. I remind me of him. He doesn’t take even the slightest slights stoically. He gets both angry and even. Either on the spot or with the first chance that presents itself.
I second that commotion.
Earlier this season, I went to Philadelphia for the express purpose of pressing Paul one-on-one. Though the interviewing conditions were scarcely ideal, in one spontaneous story obviously still stuck in his craw he sized himself up: his serrated edge, self-esteem and why he plays (and lives) with a buffalo herd of chips on his shoulder.
Too small (5-foot-2) and not confident enough to play varsity ball his sophomore year at Winston Salem’s West Forsyth High School, Paul didn’t mushroom (eight-inch spurt) and flower until he was a junior.
Simultaneously, his body and game came into their own and he became the star of the team. Just as suddenly, colleges in the region picked up his fragrant scent. By midseason, Wake Forest and North Carolina State had offered Paul a full ride. They were not his first choices.
“I loved the Tar Heels,” he said, smiling that beatific smile, something he does most of the time, on and off guard duty, keeping the population off balance so no one knows what’s on deck. “I grew up following North Carolina. It was 13 miles away from my home in Lewisville. Since I was a little kid, that was the only school I wanted to play for.”
East Meadow’s Matt Doherty, a four-year starter at UNC where he was alternately shaded somewhat by Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Kenny Smith, was the Tar Heels’ coach at the time.
Doherty told Paul there might be a spot for him after the season. Apparently, he’d offered his last available scholarship and the chosen one was undecided.
“But there’s definitely room on my team for you as a walk-on,” Paul recalls Doherty generously informing him.
Paul escorted 26-4 Forsyth to the state semifinals. Shortly thereafter, Doherty offered him that precious scholarship he had yearned for as long as he could remember.
“I had waited patiently for that day to come,” Paul said somberly, his smile having run away from his face. “I wanted to know I was good enough to get one. As soon as it was offered, I called coach [Skip Prosser] and committed to Wake Forest.”
We’re down to what the NBA is pawning off as the Elite Eight. Three is more like it.
En garde, or guard.
Who wouldn’t stop in the name of the love for Paul (knocked out by the Spurs in ’08 conference semis; seven games versus Tony Parker?Follow @NYPostsports