HoopsHype.com Interviews

Chris Paul: "I'm excited to be playing with Peja"
by Nebojsa Petrovacki / November 18, 2006

What makes you more optimistic about this season compared to the last regarding your team's chances of getting to the playoffs?

Chris Paul: It’s just the additions we made. We added a lethal shooter in Peja Stojakovic who keeps the court spread. A guy like Bobby Jackson can shoot it, can drive it. He’s just a great veteran and a great floor leader. And a guy like Tyson Chandler down low. He can be huge, both offensive and defensive presence in the way he blocks shots and rebounds the ball.

How did it feel having such a great season being Rookie of the Year and the best rookie of every month of last season and still not seeing the playoffs?

CP: That was tough, you know. I would’ve easily traded any individual honor for the shot at the playoffs. That’s the goal this year. It’s all about trying to get to the postseason.

How did this transition from college to the pro ranks happen so easily for you?

CP: I think it was just my teammates, you know. They and the coaching staff had the ultimate confidence in me and they allowed me to play. They really gave me a lot of advice, gave me the ball and let me go.

What didn’t go well in the losses in this early part of the new season?

CP: We had too many turnovers. In the loss against Clippers we had 26 of them. I think I probably had eight or nine by myself. That is very uncharacteristic for us. Few of them were forced turnovers, but few of them were just, I don’t know, referees saw something that they didn’t.

Since Peja is coming from an entirely different environment comparing to yourself, do you also get along with him outside of the court?

CP: Oh, we get along great! Peja’s a great guy, has a great personality and I’m too excited to be playing with him now.

How does it feel playing the NBA basketball in Oklahoma City?

CP: It was my first year in the league, so everything was just new to me. It’s the only NBA city I’ve ever played in, so I had to get used to it on the fly.

You once said that every NBA player is a corporation for himself. How did you manage to fit in such an environment?

CP: I think it comes naturally to me, and I also have an older brother who lives with me. He’s helping me make the transition to the NBA in all aspects. But you are forced to do that, you know. This is a corporation, it is a business, and you have to approach it like that.

Do you feel tired after playing for the US national team last summer?

CP: No, I think once you get down on that court, all of that is blocked out of your mind, and it all becomes about playing ball. I was fortunate to play on that USA team this summer.

How does it feel getting only a bronze medal from the World Championships?

CP: It’s tough. But we understand that it is a three-year commitment, and that we can only get better.

Nebojsa Petrovacki is the editor of Sportska Centrala, a sports news agency from Serbia

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