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Thunder: Chris Paul honors former Hornets teammates in court dedication

Chris Paul stood in the middle of a vibrant court with waves of blue, yellow, red and purple. The words “family first, family last, family always” were painted in black letters behind him. 

The Thunder point guard, crowded among a group of attentive children, dedicated a refurbished indoor basketball court Friday afternoon at Family T.R.E.E in Oklahoma City — a “transformative space” for families involved in the child welfare system. 

“They just want somewhere to play,” Paul said. “A safe haven. That’s what kids should have.” 

The court was designed with a personal touch. Zodiac signs for Paul and his family filled the paint. 

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And on the back wall and to the left of the rim was the name Rasual Butler and the No. 45 below it. On the right side of the basket was the name Jackson Vroman and the No. 4. 

Butler and Vroman were teammates of Paul when the New Orleans Hornets relocated to Oklahoma City in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. 

Butler died in 2018. Vroman died in 2015. 

“I started my career here in Oklahoma City, and probably none of y’all were born,” said Paul, turning around to see a few hands raised for kids born before 2005. 

“If not for those guys, basketball might not be here in Oklahoma City,” Paul said. “Two of my teammates that played with me then have now gone onto a better place.” 

Related Photos
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation,...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f4b617aa8238af4737a4400813f412fa.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d74262945f80a6f987574ce168b1fb3f.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul speaks during the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul speaks during the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul speaks during the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1d70a0dced1d1861891a6f860a3d27f4.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-580ae6f2ae0714072764b6b34fbec3ee.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-234e3b8a20751031e3cffce0c6ef5171.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f4b617aa8238af4737a4400813f412fa.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul leads a basketball clinic with youth from Family TREE after the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The refurbishment was completed by a partnership of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Spalding and State Farm. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-dec32e6469494c4e966fe87dc641d5ed.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul holds a basketball showing how his family's zodiac signs combine to make an owl during the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The court design incorporates the zodiac signs of Paul and each of his family members. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul holds a basketball showing how his family's zodiac signs combine to make an owl during the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The court design incorporates the zodiac signs of Paul and each of his family members. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul holds a basketball showing how his family's zodiac signs combine to make an owl during the dedication of a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. The court design incorporates the zodiac signs of Paul and each of his family members. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ea4721ca19052ef142f199221ddaab96.jpg" alt="Photo - Former New Orleans Hornets player Rasual Butler's name and number are painted above a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul had the names of his deceased Hornets teammates Butler and Jackson Vroman incorporated into the refurbishment. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Former New Orleans Hornets player Rasual Butler's name and number are painted above a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul had the names of his deceased Hornets teammates Butler and Jackson Vroman incorporated into the refurbishment. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Former New Orleans Hornets player Rasual Butler's name and number are painted above a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul had the names of his deceased Hornets teammates Butler and Jackson Vroman incorporated into the refurbishment. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ca5970e58b0ac9fcb29a769f437842b0.jpg" alt="Photo - Former New Orleans Hornets player Jackson Vroman's name and number are painted above a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul had the names of his deceased Hornets teammates Vroman and Rasual Butler incorporated into the refurbishment. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title="Former New Orleans Hornets player Jackson Vroman's name and number are painted above a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul had the names of his deceased Hornets teammates Vroman and Rasual Butler incorporated into the refurbishment. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Former New Orleans Hornets player Jackson Vroman's name and number are painted above a refurbished basketball court at Family TREE in Oklahoma City, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul had the names of his deceased Hornets teammates Vroman and Rasual Butler incorporated into the refurbishment. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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