In one of the most important games of his career, Chris Paul (who people often refer to as the “Point God”) once again embarrassed himself. Scoring just 10 points along with 4 assists and 1 rebound in 31 minutes, where was the “Point God” at the moment his team needed him the most?
Maybe the CP3 that showed up in Sunday’s elimination game was his doppelgänger — he barely made an impact, was attacked on defense, and worst, couldn’t get past his opponents like he usually does. Since turning 37 last May (five games played), Paul had 27 assists, 22 turnovers, 20 fouls, and 17 baskets.
Was Paul playing hurt? Maybe, but how many times will we use injury as an excuse to defend his legacy? Because in the past two years, when the championship was more winnable than ever, the Point God has failed to seize the moment.
Which begs me to ask another question: Is it time for CP3 to call it a career and hang it up? Now that the Phoenix Suns’ chances look bleaker than ever moving forward, will the next few years ruin Paul’s legacy? Or can he once again attempt to salvage the trajectory of his career? How can Paul even do that in the first place?
Why time’s up for CP3
The regular season stats are remarkable, his floor general skills and midrange shot are still one of a kind, and his basketball IQ is arguably the best in the league. But all of these don’t matter when it doesn’t translate to winning career-defining games. Sure, CP3 can go on a historic 14-out-14 from the field now and then, but that doesn’t excuse scoring just 10 points in Game 7 and looking like a shell of himself in his last five games.
This Playoff run has exposed Paul’s age more than ever. Gone are the days when he had all energy, pop, and even to an extent, durability to stay on the court. He has blown 2-0 series leads five times now and has lost his last four Game 7s. So what happens if this continues? Or worst, if he never gets the chance to compete at a high level again?
Paul’s record-setting accomplishments won’t go to waste, and even if retiring without a championship will sting his legacy (ask Charles Barkley, who knows a thing or two about this), it’s best if he doesn’t make it worst. The only thing more gut-wrenching than an all-time great never winning a title is closing out their career in a losing fashion.
Can Paul still end his career with a championship?
The answer to this is a yes, but the chances are slim. The Suns, who employ Paul for three more years, have a lot of work to do in the offseason. It starts with Deandre Ayton’s tenure with the team, who seems more unhappy with the organization than ever. If the Suns are forming another contending roster, they’ll have to go against a healthier Western Conference next season, which they haven’t proven to defeat yet.
Like this year, Paul probably won’t experience any more breaks or luck. There’s a high chance that injuries continue to creep up on the 37-year-old and that he continues to slow down. If that’s the case, maybe Paul should reconsider his team and go somewhere he can thrive as a third option.
Because looking back on his storied 17-year career, Paul has proven that he isn’t the franchise player who can carry his team to the mountain top.