For many years, Chris Paul has been considered one of the best, if not the best point guard in the NBA and a player who had virtually no weaknesses.
He can run a team, dictate the pace, up-tempo the game, slow it down, score from all three levels, create open shots for his teammates, grab rebounds, draw fouls, and play above-average defense.
Paul has also had the reputation for being clutch and being a man who raises his performance in big games, and he has always had a massive impact on every new team he has joined.
The only thing he has seemingly lacked is an NBA championship ring.
After he joined the Phoenix Suns last season, they blew a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks.
It wasn’t too much of a blow to Paul’s legacy, especially when Phoenix won a league-best 64 games this season and seemed to be on their way to winning it all.
Instead, it got whacked in the second round of the Western Conference semifinals by the Dallas Mavericks, a team that looks inferior to it on paper.
This failure will cause Paul’s legacy to be reevaluated and rewritten in ways that won’t exactly be kind to him.
This Loss Was Inexcusable
Most figured that the Suns would dispatch the Mavs without too much trouble, despite the presence of Luka Doncic, an MVP-level player.
After Phoenix won the first two games of the series, it looked like it was well on its way to the Western Conference Finals.
Dallas then won Game 3 in Texas, which wasn’t too much of a surprise, and even after it took Game 4, the Suns didn’t have too much reason to be concerned.
They won Game 5, 110-80, and all they had to do was conclude matters in the sixth game in Arizona.
But when the Mavs took that contest by 27 points, suddenly a Suns series triumph didn’t seem preordained.
Everything was set up for Phoenix to claim Game 7, especially at home, before their adoring fans.
What ensued was one of the most shocking and unexpected winner-take-all games in NBA history.
Paul, whom many expected to lead his team to victory with some sort of vintage performance, took just eight shots and scored only 10 points in 31 points as his team got destroyed, 123-90.
The man who led the NBA in assists during the regular season with 10.8 a game only had four in his biggest game of the season.
Paul, a man whom some have said is the best leader in the NBA, failed to lead effectively in Game 7.
The Irony Of Chris Paul
The narrative that Paul is clutch and raises his game when needed has to be seriously reconsidered.
For one, he has been snake-bit over the years, having suffered several tough Game 7 losses over the years.
In 2015, his Los Angeles Clippers blew a 3-1 lead in the second round to the Houston Rockets, blowing a huge advantage in Game 6 at home, even with James Harden on the bench for most of the run Houston made.
Paul has suffered several untimely injuries come playoff time, such as the hamstring injury he sustained just as his Rockets took a 3-2 lead over the dynastic Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
Now, his team has once again lost a series it probably should’ve won, but this time there was no excuse.
Chris Paul is the first player ever to blow five 2-0 leads in a best-of-7 series.
2-0 vs Spurs in 2008
2-0 vs Grizzlies in 2013
2-0 vs Blazers in 2016
2-0 vs Bucks in 2021
2-0 vs Mavs in 2022
He is also the only player to blow four 2-0 leads. pic.twitter.com/Y6yXcKVT66
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 16, 2022
The Suns were healthy in this series, and although some sources claimed that Paul had a quad injury after the game, there didn’t seem to be any evidence of it during the contest.
After his team took a 2-0 lead over Dallas, Paul averaged just 9.4 points and 7.2 shot attempts a game in the series.
Chris Paul has 1 point at half. Devin Booker has 2. Together, they were 0-11. Just pathetic. Legacy-damaging.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 16, 2022
At age 37, he appears to be in slow decline, and the Suns will probably lose starting center Deandre Ayton this summer, which will significantly weaken them.
Let’s face it: Paul just isn’t quite the player we thought he was all these years.