Thursday, September 29, 2016

A great night to be a ringer (a story about basketball star Chris Paul)

The year was 2005, and I was writing for the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal's Clemmons zoned edition that evening.

Chris Paul, a native of Clemmons (and a star at West Forsyth High School and Wake Forest University), was going to play as a ringer on a men's league team at Forsyth Country Day School.

The Journal photographer got there early and took a shot of Paul in bearded "disguise." I could tell who he was, and I suspect anyone else could, too.

During the game, Paul dominated against college and pro players, including lots of local guys who were then playing professionally overseas. The 6-foot Paul had about 34 points and 15 rebounds, and he did at least one backwards dunk against taller players.

But the most impressive thing to me was the passing. I couldn't keep assists, but Paul constantly found teammates for layups or open shots. At one point, he passed under a defender's armpit for a layup.

Afterward, a bunch of people went up to say hi. I waited politely. When I approached him, he waited on me, not trying to get away. He knew me from the many games I'd covered at Joel Coliseum, I guess.

I got a great interview, and he went up into the stands to greet his fans. I haven't seen him since (except on TV), but he was a great guy that night.

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Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

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