MINNEAPOLIS -- Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery and his son Patrick, who had a malignant tumor on his thyroid removed two weeks ago, were guests of the Los Angeles Clippers for their game Monday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul befriended Patrick, 14, prior to the operation. Paul called him before and after the surgery and tweeted out a message of support.
The McCaffery family attended the Clippers' shootaround before Monday's game, with Patrick playing basketball with Paul and joining the team huddle after practice. After the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers invited the family into the locker room, and Paul presented Patrick with his game-worn shoes.
"[Paul's] interaction with Patrick has been so genuine," Fran McCaffery told the Clippers' official website. "When he found out today that he was going to shootaround, he hasn't smiled like that in a month. I just can't thank Doc and Chris and the Clippers enough."
Paul passed the ball to Patrick for corner 3-pointers during the shootaround, and he chatted with the point guard, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan afterward. Following the Clippers' 114-104 victory, Patrick was greeted by high fives and hugs in the Clippers' locker room.
"It's real cool to get a chance to see him," Paul said. "I got his phone number and called him the day before he had surgery, and I actually called him after he had surgery, too, to make sure everything went all right. He's a great kid."
The original plan was for the McCaffery family to make the four-hour trip from Iowa City to Minneapolis just to watch the game and meet Paul after it, but Rivers extended the invitation to shootaround so Patrick could get more time with the team.
"We told him the only place we could get close was Minnesota, so come to the game and come to shootaround and we're going to put him around the team," Rivers said. "He was great. He was out there on the floor during our practice portion. So that was great for him."