Originally published on 3/31/2014
The McCaffery family was at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Monday, rooting for the road team and its star point guard.
The Iowa basketball coach and his family were guests of Los Angeles Clippers all-star Chris Paul, coach Doc Rivers and the entire team for their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The McCafferys were also invited to the team shootaround Monday morning, when they got to visit with Paul.
Paul called Patrick McCaffery, 14, before he had surgery to remove a tumor on his thyroid on March 19, then called him after his surgery. Doctors discovered the tumor was malignant on March 21.
Fran McCaffery said Monday that Patrick will have a second surgery April 17. The surgery is necessary to determine if radioactive iodine is necessary in treating his cancer.
Fran said that Paul's efforts to reach out to his son went straight to the heart.
"He said he would call him back after the surgery and he did, which is pretty amazing," Fran 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 talking to Patrick before his surgery, Paul tweeted, "I'm stronger today after talking to him! #TeamPat."
When Fran McCaffery was coaching at North Carolina-Greensboro earlier in his career, Paul was right next door playing collegiately for Wake Forest. Paul was the favorite player of Connor McCaffery, Patrick's older brother and a freshman point guard at Iowa City West. Paul is now Patrick's favorite player, too.
Patrick was originally scheduled to play in an AAU tournament in Milwaukee next week. But he won't be able to play for awhile, so he'll join his father at the Final Four near Dallas.
Fran McCaffery said his family is hanging in there.
"We're doing OK," Fran said. "We're just dealing with it."
McCaffery also told Clippers.com that Patrick smiled like he hasn't smiled in a month when he heard he was going to the team shootaround Monday.
After Monday's game, a 114-104 Clippers victory, Paul wrote #TeamPat on his shoes and gave them to Patrick.
"Class act," Fran McCaffery told the Register. "Great to see Patrick really happy!"