For the first time since 1993, the Phoenix Suns are going to the NBA Finals. More importantly, Chris Paul is making the NBA Finals for the first time in his 16 year career, how fitting it happens in Staples Center where he blew so many playoff series. Chris Paul has redeemed himself, and if he wins in the NBA Finals he will be considered a top 5 point guard with no asterisk next to his name like Steve Nash has.
Infamous for being on teams that have choked in the playoffs it’s fitting that he beat the Clippers at the Staples Center to advance to his first-ever NBA Finals. Throughout his career CP3 has dealt with unfortunate injuries, bad breaks, and poor play in the playoffs. But finally, Chris Paul has beat the demons he’s battled for 16 years and now has a chance to get that elusive ring he’s chased for so long.
I mentioned earlier that if Chris Paul never won a ring he would have an asterisk next to his name like Steve Nash does. Nash like Paul played on the Suns, dealt with bad breaks, unfortunate injuries, and a curse (probably). Nash dealt with a nose that wouldn’t stop bleeding, he was on the receiving end of the Horry Shove and dealt with Bryan Colangelo in the front office. Chris Paul and Steve Nash are very similar players with very similar experiences, but Chris Paul did what Nash was never fortunate enough to do, make the NBA Finals.
The Suns had a potential dynasty on their hands in 2004 when they had Nash, Joe Johnson, Barbosa, Marion, Stoudemire, and Mike D’Antoni as head coach. But Bryan Colangelo decided to alienate Joe Johnson causing him to go to Atlanta, dump Marion in 2007, and waste Nash in his prime. In the mid to late 2000s the Suns were perennial contenders, and Phoenix was making a whole lot of money for ABC. So David Stern thanked the Suns by suspending Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw when they went to help their teammate Steve Nash after he was shoved into an announcer’s table by Robert Horry in the 2007 conference semifinals. That suspension caused the Suns to lose their final shot at a title and put the final nail in the coffin for D’Antoni’s revolutionary 7-second offense. The next season the Suns would acquire an aging big man in Shaq, trade Marion, and force their offense to be center friendly. Basically, the 7-second offense that opposing teams had no answer for had to be changed because an old Shaq couldn’t spread the floor. The aging Suns somehow made it to the 2010 Conference Finals before losing to the Lakers (Kobe beat that single-handedly pretty much). Until this season that was the last time the Suns made the playoffs or even had a talented team.
Chris Paul was able to do something Steve Nash never did, and for that, I now have Chris Paul ahead of Steve Nash in my ranking for greatest point guards of all time. What is my ranking for greatest point guards of all time? You ask. Here it is Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Steph Curry, Oscar Robertson, and John Stockton. But my rankings for all-time players is a whole other article.
CP3 has been a part of some good teams and a part of some great teams. Take the 2012-2013 Clippers, they had lob city together for the first time in a full season (the previous season was cut short because of the 2011 lockout). And for the first time in his career CP3 choked, in the deciding game 6 he wasn’t even the leading scorer, Matt Barnes was. That’s pretty sad, and not to mention the Grizzlies were far inferior to the team many people expected to make the NBA Finals. Okay, that was one season, how many more times could Chris Paul choke in the playoffs? 7 more times. In every playoff series from 2014-2020, yeah he was that bad. He even earned a nickname for when he played poorly in the playoffs, Cliff Paul. My last article was titled Cliff Paul is back, but he stepped up in game 6 scoring 41 points. Finally getting over the hump.
CP3 silenced all the haters last night slashing a 41/4/8 line. I knew it was over when Paul showcased his nasty crossover breaking his defender’s ankles then drawing a foul for a 4 point play. Early in the game, CP3 looked out of rhythm, but quickly corrected his lack of shot-making by knocking down 3 straight three-pointers. He was dishing out nice passes, playing off-ball when needed, controlling the offense at all times, and most importantly he controlled the pace of the game. Chris Paul needs to establish his pace of play early in the game, things get out of hand when the other team is controlling the pace. Chris Paul is like an anxious driver, you don’t annoy the already anxiety riddled driver by playing in the backseat that will cause the anxious driver to spin out of control. When Paul is not controlling the tempo of the game he spins out of control and all is lost. That is what has happened in so many playoff games in his past, but for the first time, he controlled the tempo the whole way through. And see what happened.
CP3 and the Suns will not have an easy win in the Finals. They will either face the Hawks or the Bucks and if Giannis is out for the rest of the series, the Finals will be played by the Hawks and Suns. Unless Middleton goes off to steal games 5 and 6, Trae Young will get to face the point guard he grew up watching.
Watching Chris Paul defeat the team he choked so many playoff series with was fitting. Watching the fans boo him for winning with another team was even more hilarious. The Clippers are a cursed team I really do believe that, so watching them come this close to lose to the guy they once loved was awesome. That’s the only way I can describe it.
Steve Nash could never beat Kobe (when Kobe actually had a team around him and it wasn’t Kobe vs. the world), Chris Paul could never beat himself. Well, he finally did it and now he has a chance to finally win on the biggest stage of them all, the NBA Finals.