NEW ORLEANS – Chris Paul pledges that he won’t come back until his surgically repaired knee is 100 percent.
And that, he said, might just be the best thing for the Hornets right now.
“I think, me being out, this may be a blessing in disguise,” Paul said in his first time speaking with the press since having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Feb. 3.
“Some people may say what in the world does that mean. But I think it gives other guys a lot of confidence right now. Hopefully when I come back, I don’t mess anything up. We can make a push at this playoff run.”
The surgery went well, Paul said, and though he’s still on two crutches, he’s hoping to be down to one crutch by Sunday’s All-Star game in Dallas.
Paul said Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, trimmed the tear in his knee instead of doing complete reconstruction.
“It’s tough, but it’s something I’m going to have to do,” Paul said. “Rehab is tough because some days it can feel like it’s getting better and some days it can go the other way. But I just got to stay with it and keep doing everything that I have to do to get back.”
Paul said he isn’t worried that his knee will be any less structurally sound when he returns in the next few weeks.
“No, that’s the point of rehab,” Paul said. “I don’t want to come back until I’m 100 percent. This isn’t my first time. They won’t let me play unless I can and I won’t do that to myself.”
The Hornets are 2-4 without Paul, winning at Memphis and at Charlotte. But they also lost three straight at home and on the road to Orlando, where they blew a lead after scoring 70 first half points.
In Paul’s place has stepped Darren Collison, a rookie who is averaging 16.4 points, 7.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game in 14 starts.
As for Paul’s future, despite being injured, he was named to the United States’ national team as one of its 28 members.
“It’s an honor,” Paul said. “I’m excited. We had so much fun in ’08. I told them in ’08 I wanted to be a part of it again. I want to win another gold medal. If I’m healthy in 2016, I want another one.”
On the bright side, though Paul missed Sunday’s Super Bowl, he was able to take in Tuesday’s victory parade from Gallier Hall.
He left with one lasting thought – “It was crazy to see them come by,” Paul said. “All the fans, I think the biggest thing is that it motivated me to want us to win a championship so we can have a parade.”