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Paul not worried about replacements calling games

By Brian Mahoney
AP Basketball Writer / September 21, 2009

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NEW YORK—Because of his size, many teams will always try to be physical with Chris Paul.

Yet the All-Star guard isn't worried about play getting out of hand if his games are being called by replacement officials.

"No, no," Paul said Monday. "I don't worry about replacement referees. End of the day, you're reffing the game."

The NBA and its referees union have failed to reach agreement on a new contract and the league announced last week it will begin training replacement officials. Without a new deal soon, replacements will be used when preseason play opens Oct. 1.

The league hasn't begun a season without its regular referees since 1995.

"They probably won't know us as well and we won't know them on a first-name basis like we do the regular referees, but you've got to play the game," Paul said.

The 6-foot Paul is one of the NBA's shortest players, but his size has never stopped him. And he wants kids to know it doesn't have to stop them, either.

Paul was at the NBA Store reading and signing copies of his new book, "Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big," a children's book Paul wrote about overcoming his height to try out and make a team as a youngster growing up in North Carolina.

Paul said he has faced skepticism throughout his career, and hopes the book teaches children how to deal with it.

"The book is about basketball, but it's a bigger story than that," Paul said. "It may be in the work force, it may be anywhere that you want to succeed, there's going to be people that doubt you and think that you can't do it. But if you believe in yourself and things like that, the sky's the limit."

It has been for Paul, who went on to become Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star and a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in 2008. There was even some question if he would make that team because of his size, since coach Mike Krzyzewski wanted his backcourt to have players who could deal with the bigger and more physical international guards.

Paul's New Orleans Hornets struggled at the end of last season because of injuries and were quickly eliminated from the playoffs. They made a big trade over the summer, dealing starting center Tyson Chandler to Charlotte for Emeka Okafor.

Chandler had his best offensive seasons in New Orleans, where Paul often set him up for easy dunks with alley-oop passes. Paul said he won't have the same relationship with Okafor -- but doesn't want one.

"Tyson's a totally different player from Emeka, Emeka's a totally different type. They play two totally different style games," Paul said. "I don't want Emeka to come in and try to be Tyson. And I think starting from day one in training camp, me and Emeka have the opportunity to start our own thing."

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