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|CP3 plays for the Clippers now, but he has a special place in his heart for New Orleans and the Hornets.|
""I'm emotionally connected to that team forever," Paul said this week. "I still love that city. I always will. It's going to be crazy to be in a different uniform, especially playing against them. I'm so emotionally attached to the city and that team." There's a fondness for Paul here as well, but let's be clear: This city's heart belongs to the Saints. They dominated any discussion Wednesday, and they had the town emotionally rattled. The best way to summarize the local mood is to recount the story a bar owner told me about a regular customer who gave up drinking alcohol for Lent and stuck to his vow -- even on St. Patrick's Day -- until he learned of the Saints' penalties and came in for some Jameson whiskey. New Orleans residents see themselves in the Saints, a franchise that suffered four decades of futility before winning the Super Bowl in 2010. And now the most glorious moment in the city's sports history has been tarnished, with the Saints forced to acknowledge that their championship came amid a bounty program that offered cash incentives to injure other teams' star players. "We've been thrown a lot of bad breaks in the past and we keep getting up and we show up every September," said Sean Tate, the program manager at the KIPP Central City school, just a few blocks from the Superdome. "It's going to be tough without our coach on the sidelines and our draft picks. "It's tough to hear. That [Super Bowl] year, just thinking about watching that game and how awesome it was, when it was finally apparent that, 'Wow, the Saints are going to win the Super Bowl' -- it takes a little bit away from it. "Now people will always look back and say 'They had this bounty system.' People will always look with this cloud." That doesn't mean he will get rid of the copy of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's championship coverage edition, with the front-page headline "Amen!" "That's something that can never be taken away," he said. Paul feels the same way about his bond with the city. A trade doesn't eradicate the connections he made with New Orleans, including his partnership with Chase Bank to donate $1 million to fund the afterschool program at the KIPP Central City Primary school, where I met Tate on Wednesday. Through his CP3 afterschool program, kids learn everything from nutrition tips to Zumba dance workouts. Paul didn't just write a check; he has been there to play basketball with the kids, make sushi rolls with them and help them sell lemonade at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for a dollar a cup.
I still love that city. I always will. It's going to be crazy to be in a different uniform, especially playing against them. I'm so emotionally attached to the city and that team." -- Chris Paul
|Paul continues to make an impact on the youth in New Orleans.|