The tie between Chris Paul and Fran McCaffery is tenuous at best.

McCaffery has never coached Paul, and now Paul plays in Los Angeles while McCaffery coaches at Iowa. But years ago the two weren't as far apart -- Paul played at Wake Forest and McCaffery coached at nearby UNC-Greensboro. Paul became the favorite player of one of McCaffery's sons, but the two never had much of a relationship.

The fact that Paul didn't need a strong connection to offer support to McCaffery during these dark days reinforces his reputation as one of the highest-character stars in the NBA.

McCaffery's 14-year-old son, Patrick, had surgery last month to remove a tumor on his thyroid. The surgery was on the same day as McCaffery's Hawkeyes squared off against Tennessee in a play-in game for the NCAA tournament.

The day before the operation, Paul tweeted his support for Patrick.


What many people didn't know, however, is that Paul also called the teenager before and after the surgery. McCaffery revealed that when he spoke with reporters after visiting with Paul and his Los Angeles teammates in Minnesota, where the Clippers were practicing before taking on the Timberwolves.

"He said he would call him back after the surgery and he did, which is pretty amazing," the elder McCaffery said. "He talked to him (before the first surgery) and told him it was OK to be scared. Because Patrick admitted he was scared. He said, 'It’s OK to be scared, but you’re going to be fine.' He was encouraging and warm, and it really meant a lot to Patrick."

After the first operation doctors discovered that Patrick's cancer is malignant, and he'll have to have another surgery on April 17 to determine whether he needs additional treatment. With that in mind, it was a welcome distraction for the teenager and his family to visit with the Clippers and watch them defeat the Timberwolves.

McCaffery told the Clippers' website that Patrick smiled bigger than he had in a while when he heard he and his family would be attending the team's shootaround Monday.


After the game, in which Paul finished one assist shy of a double-double, he gave Patrick a signed shoe.


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