Chris Paul stepped onto a private jet here around 5 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2011 for a flight to a new start in Los Angeles. As soon as the ex-New Orleans Hornets star sat down in his seat, the reality of the departure from a city that he loved and a franchise that frustrated him set in and he broke down into tears just before the wheels went up.

"We got on the plane and I laid my head on the window after saying goodbye to the guys at the airport that I used to see all the time. I was emotional," Paul told Yahoo Sports. "You think you were going to have some time to let it set in. But as soon as it happened, all the memories, just leaving…

"The trade happened at night so it wasn't like you got to tell people bye. It happened and we were gone."

On Sunday, Paul will receive the spotlight here again when he plays in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Paul's memorable Hornets tenure with a bitter ending started nearly nine years ago when he was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. Though Hurricane Katrina left Paul and the Hornets dispatched to Oklahoma City for most of his first season, the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year quickly became one the league's elite players.
Hornets fans came back to games in large part to cheer Paul, who led the franchise to a near second-round playoff upset of the reigning world champion San Antonio Spurs in 2008 and a near first-round upset of the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in 2011. Ex-Hornets forward David West called Paul the franchise's first big star in New Orleans. Paul also represented the Hornets in his first All-Star appearance in New Orleans in 2008 and has earned the honor every season here after that.

"He just re-energized and brought life back into the organization," West said. "We knew that he'd lead us to the right direction with the things he brought to the table."

The Hornets returned full-time to New Orleans during the 2006-07 season. Paul not only gave the locals something to get their mind off the tough Katrina recovery with his play, but he also made a strong impact in the community. Paul headed the CP Foundation that benefited programs in New Orleans affected by Katrina, including opening an after-school youth program.