“After all, I always say that unless you win, no one will care about your story.”
This is the star Chris Paul of the Suns Tell Rachel Nichols of ESPN Before Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Frankly speaking, this statement is incorrect. Despite paying tribute to the seven-time champion Robert Horry, Allen Iverson’s influence on the league far exceeds that of “Big Man Bob.”
However, it does provide a window for Paul’s thinking and explains why the Suns’ loss to the Bucks in Game 6 is something he will not forget soon. After Phoenix started the series 2-0, Milwaukee won four consecutive games and won the 2021 NBA championship. Tuesday night was the fourth time that Paul’s team had a 2-0 advantage in a seven-game series.
Chris Paul’s team leads:
2-0 against Spurs in 2008
2-0 against the Grizzlies in 2013
2015 3-1 vs. Rockets
2016 2-0 against the Trail Blazers (severe hand)
2018 3-2 vs. Warriors (hamstring)
2-0 against the Bucks in 2021
He is the first player ever to lead 2-0 in a 7-game 7-win series. pic.twitter.com/HZ6GZQaUZZ
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 21, 2021
Those previous playoff failures Need contextOf course, especially in the series where Paul or other key teammates are absent due to injury. But this is also the reason why this special playoff end is so painful.
Paul and the Suns made some lucky breakthroughs when they broke into the Western Conference playoffs. Each of Phoenix’s opponents lost a key player before or during the playoffs: the Lakers and Anthony Davis, the Nuggets and Jamal Murray, the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard. Yes, Paul dealt with some health issues, including a COVID-19 diagnosis, which made him withdraw from the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, but the Suns entered the NBA Finals relatively unscathed.
With Phoenix dominating the two games, this series seems to have become Paul’s coronation.He is two wins away from taking a place in the legend of the sport and improving his status in the game. The greatest point guard discussion ever.
But then Giannis Antetokounmpo happened. Chris Middleton happened. Jrue Holiday happened. And Paul looked like an empty shell of himself in Game 4. Suddenly, this dream turned into a nightmare, leaving Paul staring blankly at the reporter after another heartbreak.
“I mean, I will spend some time thinking about [my first season in Phoenix], But now you just want to figure out more things you can do. It’s tough,” Paul said. “A great group of people, a bad season, but this season will be injured for a while. “
In case there is any doubt, Paul, at the age of 36, No retirement planHe did not directly answer how he would handle his $44.2 million player option this summer, but considering that the Suns can offer him a lucrative contract and have the opportunity to compete for this elusive opportunity, if he makes the Suns become Free agent, that would be a surprising ring. His shortcomings in the Finals should not obscure his significance for Phoenix this season. Reaching an agreement is in the best interests of both parties.
“No matter where he goes, the team has won. They have improved,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He is very close. He was injured when he came here before, but he and [Devin Booker], Leading a team that has never had such a performance shows their talent, dedication and willingness to win. “
However, deep down, Paul must want to know whether his best chance of winning the championship is by his side. Next season, the West will return with a full load again, and the Bucks and Nets will make their mark in the East. Paul knows better than most people how quickly a team can be kicked out of the championship.
Ultimately, if Paul never ends a season with a victory, his place in basketball history will not be erased, no matter what he might tell you. As Williams said, he is “the greatest in history” and a future Hall of Fame member.
But Paul knows very well that he has only so many years left in his career, and he is still looking for the ending of the storybook.
“Everyone in the locker room knows that we have had enough, but not enough,” Paul said. “So we have to figure it out. I think for me, I just look at myself and see how I can get better, I can do more, and make sure I come back next season and I’m ready to do it again. at this point.”