Maybe we should save this until we see how the NBA Finals end. If Chris Paul doesn’t get his ring, all that’s been said about him before defeating his first appearance in the finals, after the Suns beat the Clippers, 130-103, last night, could be trotted out again just by himself).
But there is a lot of shitty news in the ol ‘sportseroo yesterday and today. Take your pick. It’s usually like that, and it’s our job to choose, but sometimes you have to remember why you care.
If you don’t feel anything at the unrestricted joy and relief that Paul showed you last night, then maybe it’s time to pack it all up. I was surprised to be reminded that Paul has been damned for 16 years, even though it seems like it’s always been an appointment in the NBA. Yet I remember watching his Wake Forest team that was kicked out of Illinois in 2004. It was only a million years ago.
I know there’s a huge fan base that indicates that it’s not hard to live the NBA life, so what does it matter to spend 16 years without a Finals appearance? There’s the money, the ads, the fame. These same people will tell you happily that the players don’t care enough, which Paul clearly rejected last night. I can’t have both.
When things don’t work out, it’s always the stars that bleed. Where Paul was supposed to lead a Clippers team coached by well-known clinn-Vinnie Del Negro and then recently discovered clod Doc Rivers, I’ll leave it to you to decide. But Paul took the weight off this after Lob City fizzled out. He took the blame even in Houston. I could have worked here. If he hadn’t been injured in 2018 maybe the Rockets would have won Game 7 against Golden State. At the very least, he would have made at least one of those 703 straight triples they managed to miss.
Everyone was loading the gun after the Suns fell to place in Game 5 with the possibility of putting the Clippers out of their misery. I may even fall into the trap of using a game as a referendum. But sometimes it’s just one game, and everything can end up in just one game. Paul showed that he was late in game 6. Shooting 41 overall and 31 in the second half while shooting 66 percent from the field is certainly final.
I’ve written in the past that NBA players have to deal with the constant judging of their careers purely through the lens of whether it was decorated with a championship or not. Every other sport can find an excuse for why someone hasn’t won, but the NBA is a league built on the stars. You know that means a lot to these guys. Paul had to hear from him for over a decade at all. Whether it was affixed as reason or just accessory, I couldn’t miss the chatter.
But it’s more than that. It’s internal. There is a drive, otherwise why will they continue to do this for so long? There had to be points on the road where Paul wondered why he was even bothered. Now you know. I can’t help but feel excited by this.
Get four more, Chris.