Paul Millsap was once bitten by a dog.
Ask his younger brother, Elijah. He'll happily tell you about it.
Paul will talk about the biting in the Bayou, too. Just don't expect the same tone or tale.
If you believe Elijah's take on the family story with varying versions, it wasn't just any ordinary pooch that sank its teeth into Paul and his pants down the street from their Louisiana home when they were kids.
"He got bit," Elijah said, failing to hold back laughter, "by a three-legged dog."
Asked about the rajun Cajun canine caper, the 6-foot-8, 246-pound Jazz power forward acted like he'd give his brother's noggin a noogie if they were in the same room.
"It's not true. The dog wasn't three-legged," Paul insisted. "Everybody wants to make fun and say that."
Can't imagine why.
Perhaps hoping to clear up the family fable once and for all, Paul added with emphasis:
"It was a four-legged dog."
While the Millsap brothers have their detail-sharing differences — and amusingly so — Paul and Elijah have a bond that's common in these parts.
Basketball talent runs almost as thick as blood in many Utah Jazz families. Four of the NBA pros have bros currently on Division I college basketball rosters.
When he's not dishing up dirt on his brother, Elijah Millsap stars for the 25th-ranked University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Kaleb Korver is daring enough to play at Creighton where his sharpshooting sibling, Kyle Korver, remains a legend. The Jazz guard has another brother, Kirk, who is on the University of Missouri-Kansas City's squad.
Charles Boozer is at Iowa State, where he's much closer to cornfields than the Crazies at Duke who cheered on his two-time NBA All-Star older brother, Carlos Boozer.
And Cameron Miles headed even further west from his family's home in Dallas than his big brother in Utah, C.J. Miles, to play for the University of San Diego.
Not counting their superior basketball skills, the Millsaps, Korvers, Boozers and Miles boys act like many other brothers.
They're usually friends, but expected rivalries exist.
They get along but are competitive, roughhouse and go at it pretty hard when they're playing.
And they keep in touch.
Sometimes harder than others.
Take, for example, Kyle and Kaleb. The current Creighton player, who's now 21 years old, ended up with a bloodied face near the end of a pickup basketball game last summer when his mouth met his 28-year-old brother's elbow up close and personal.
"I made a move and drilled him right in the face with my forearm and knocked out his tooth," Kyle admitted — with a laugh, of course. "His tooth goes flying and he goes over … spits in the drinking fountain, blood all over the place."
Kyle continued, chuckling: "He's like, 'Game point. Our ball.' It was pretty fun."
Carlos didn't exactly take it easy on Charles, either, despite their six-year age difference.
"We used to have some battles back in the day. I used to beat him up pretty bad," the 28-year-old Jazz forward recalled with a smile. "He would go home crying."
Not every time, though.
Sometimes, Charles, now 22, would burn the midnight oil to better both his game and his chances against his brother.
"He'd stay in the gym until three in the morning, working on his jump shot, working on his handles," Carlos explained, "and we'd come back and play the next day for about two or three hours."
Carlos, a two-time Olympian, has played against the best in the world many times in his career. But he now cherishes the pickup battles the brothers have every summer in Miami.
Paul Millsap admits things can get "pretty intense" when he and Elijah hoop it up — and on occasion with brothers John, a former Jazz summer-leaguer, and Abraham, an ex-Brighton High standout.
"We go at it," Paul said. "It just makes each of us better. It works out. Everybody's stronger from it."
Even if they sometimes don't talk for a while after games.
"We're like each other's best friends," Paul said of Elijah. "Sometimes we get mad on the court and we go at it, not really physical fights, but get mad at each other for a little bit and shake it off."
Elijah let another family secret out of the bag: Neither he nor Paul would win games when they'd play at grandma's house.
"Our oldest brother (John) always use to come on top," he laughed.
They engage in plenty of tough brotherly love and razzing, too.
C.J. Miles fun-lovingly did that from a couple of states away while suggesting his 19-year-old brother wouldn't want to step on the court with the fifth-year pro for a game of one-on-one.
"That's not a good idea for him," said the 22-year-old Jazz player. "I'm still big brother."
The last time the Korvers played, it was Kyle's youngest brother, Kirk, who allowed him to give some good-natured grief to middle brothers Kaleb and Klayton, a former Drake standout who now lives with the Jazz player.
It turns out that baby brother sprouted up while Kyle's been away from their Pella, Iowa, family home for a decade playing college and pro ball. Now about 6-foot-7, the youngster opened eyes during that previously mentioned "pretty spirited 3-on-3 game," as Kyle called it, between the brothers and two cousins with Division 3 experience.
"All of a sudden, Kirk was hitting 3s and making moves," Kyle said, "and I'm like, 'Who is this kid?!' "
Best part was that the kid was on his team and was giving Klayton a big challenge, which Kyle used to his trash-talking advantage.
Next thing they knew, one brother was at the drinking fountain wondering where his tooth went and … ah, good times with the brothers.
For Kyle, it sure beats the activities he used to do before siblings hit growth spurts.
"For the longest time, we couldn't really play together. Our fun was to watch a Disney movie or something when they were younger," he said. "And now you get to go out and play 2-on-2, 3-on-3, and really go at it. So this is really fun."
As long as you're not the brother going to the dentist afterward, of course.
Being known as so-and-so's little brother isn't the easiest thing to deal with growing up, what with all the expectations, added pressure and notoriety.
"It used to be challenging, but now I embrace the situation," Elijah admitted over the phone on a recent UAB trip. "I'm proud that he's my brother. … It's not a bad thing. He's a good person. He does everything the right way, and I don't mind walking in his footsteps."
And he thanks the other guy with Millsap and the No. 24 on his jersey for being there for him during what has turned out to be a completely different basketball journey for the brothers.
When Elijah was still playing high school ball in Grambling, La., Paul began his incredibly successful career at Louisiana Tech. After three years of leading the NCAA in rebounding, Paul was drafted by the Jazz and found an NBA home in Utah.
Elijah, meanwhile, played his first two years of college ball at Louisiana-Lafayette but decided to transfer to UAB. He had to sit out last season, and is now tearing it up for the 18-3 Blazers.
As usual, Paul was there to help him out during his decision and transition.
That's what brothers do, right?
"He's been a real positive influence on my life," Elijah said. "I look up to him."
In multiple ways.
This Millsap is a 6-foot-6 guard, but his game looks like the bigger Millsap's. He leads UAB with averages of 16.2 points and 9.6 rebounds, and doesn't mind doing the dirty work.
"I definitely resemble Paul on the defensive end," he said. "I get after it with everything I've got on the defensive end and take charges, block shots, rebound."
Elijah says he's more of a slasher and a driver, so his offensive game is a bit different than Paul's crashing-and-bashing ways.
But they both bust their tails and seem to love heavy labor. Elijah calls that a "family trait," and credits their hard-working mom, Bettye Millsap, for instilling that work ethic into them.
The backyard basketball brawls helped toughen him up, too.
"Just growing up and seeing her work as hard as she did, it made us want to work harder," Elijah said. "I think being in a family with all four boys and us being aggressive and just battling every time we got on the court, I think that paid off for us, too."
Little brother continues to impress Paul, who wouldn't be surprised if their careers cross paths. Elijah probably has the best shot of any of the five brothers to play with, or against his sibling in the NBA.
"His work ethic is crazy," Paul said. "He wants to get better every day … and that's going to take him a long way."
Knowing that his NBA-playing sibling believes in him like that is priceless for Elijah, who, not unlike many younger brothers, hopes to live up to Paul's example.
"He always told me I was athletic enough to play in the next level. He always told me just to keep working," Elijah said, adding that his biggest focus right now is on UAB's strong season.
Paul believes Elijah could be "one-and-done" at UAB and enter the NBA draft.
"He could be one of the top (players) in the country," he said.
The Jazz's Millsap doesn't feel it's necessary to put a bug in general manager Kevin O'Connor's ear, either.
"I'm pretty sure they know him," Paul said. "I don't have to say anything. His work speaks for itself."
Because of the NBA's demanding 82-game regular season, the Jazz guys don't get a lot of opportunities to watch their brothers play. Millsap says he catches every UAB game he can on the Internet. Korver got to see Klayton and Kaleb play two years ago during the Creighton-Drake showdown.
"That was really cool," Korver said. "The game went into overtime, and they both played well."
They all keep up-to-date with phone calls or texts, though.
So Miles was excited to talk about his favorite Torero's eight-point performance last week vs. Loyola Maramount. And you can bet Korver knows all about Kaleb's most recent eight-point, seven-rebound, four-assist outing, and the two 3-pointers Kirk sank for the Kangaroos at SUU on Saturday.
And, unfortunately, Boozer is all too aware of Charles' current situation. The Iowa State junior — who occasionally strikes a similar pose to the Jazz forward by flexing his ripped, tattooed arms and roaring his approval with his mouth wide open after a strong play — had season-ending knee surgery last week.
"Right when he started getting more playing time, he ended up tearing his ACL," related the bummed-out and empathetic older Boozer, who is currently sidelined with a moderate calf strain. "So he's done for the season, but he'll be back next year."
Charles, Elijah and Kaleb are juniors, and Cameron and Kirk are just freshmen, so all of the younger brothers — who've each contributed to their teams at times this season — could be back.
Assuming, that is, none has a nasty encounter with a mad mutt.
Not to be one who delights in the painful memory of a brother, but, well, Elijah clearly delights in sharing the painful memory of his brother. He kinda makes that obvious by bursting out into laughter while divulging his doggone good story.
"When we was growing up, me and him, we was walking to the candy lady's house down the street," Elijah said. "I seen the three-legged dog before he did. ... I was shocked, and I took off and running."
The brothers can agree that all parties scurried in a hurry.
One went fast.
One went faster.
And the other didn't go fast enough.
In order, that'd be the dog, Elijah and unfortunate Paul.
"He took off running and the dog started chasing us," Paul explained, blaming his brother. "I'm like, 'What are you doing?' "
By then, though, Elijah was "already gone," Paul said, further accusing his brother of desertion.
"By the time I realized it and I took off running, the dog had caught me, bit me in the leg," he added. "I was small, though."
Paul didn't bite back.
"I kept running," he said. "I didn't feel it until I got home."
At this point, Paul's teammate, an eavesdropping Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko, asked if the dog was still attached to his leg when he made it to his house.14 comments on this story
Unfortunately for Paul, shaking off this told and re-told story — one that clearly still has all of its legs — hasn't been quite so easy over the years.
He has his brother to thank for that.