What Chris Paul can’t do

Chris Paul’s injury, unlucky, or both, is a kind of annual sporting tragedy. This is not to say that the man did not, as they say, “choke” – like anyone who has played 142 playoffs, sometimes the intensity of the spring limelight has shown us moments mental and spiritual paralysis from Paul, with the Only thing stopping him from taking the victory in front of him was some inner torment that prevented him from calmly walking towards greater success. This has happened to Chris Paul before, yes, but much less often than people suggest, and over the past few years the 37-year-old has regularly gone against the limits of his body. rather than encountering more metaphysical barriers. . The logical, corresponding “what if” scenarios of the body have actually piled up; we can reasonably entertain what could have happened to his teams if he could have stayed the whole of 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021.

To fill in the blanks of those imaginary worlds, however, we must admit a hard truth from reality: little Chris. More than anyone else to reach his level of greatness – 12 All-Star appearances, nine All-NBA picks, seven All-Defense slots and best-ever assist-to-grossing ratio era, for starters – Phoenix Current Protecting the sun point is just… not great. Towering six feet tall, Paul was once a terror to defenses around the tournament because of his breathtaking pace and prolific physicality. Combined with his innate basketball intelligence, Paul’s ability to fly into places inconvenient for the defense is on the best screen when his upstart New Orleans Hornets beat defending champion San Antonio Spurs seven games in a second series in 2008.

Paul required knee surgery two years later, and while he never recovered his former dizzying mobility, he was still able to frighten the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, by getting the likes of Marco Bellinelli and Carl Landry to sing – Paul has grown into the sport’s greatest conductor; the man behind the control panel is now called the Spirit Point. With the Los Angeles Clippers, where he was traded soon after, that ability was fulfilled with some generational catching and tricking talents and Lob City was born. For six seasons, these Clippers have been equal parts when it comes to excitement, anger, fun, bossy, scary, self-destructive, and most of all, they’re all watchable. Captain Chris was just one part of this erratic, romantic complexion, but he was a grown man, and then it all went up in smoke – as most things from that time did – with a half Sisyphean. great gasp as Kevin Durant’s Golden State Warriors take over the league.

The tragedy that was the pinnacle of Paul’s career followed. 1 seed Houston Rockets, he teamed up with James Harden, PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza for a roster built specifically to take down those Warriors, featuring a counter-attacking defense and fitness. redundancy in most possible matches. . It almost worked. The Rockets won three of the five games, with Paul handing Steph Curry his own signature mock shimmy in the third game. This was clearly a provocation to the basketball gods, who then sucked him in. He corrected his hamstring and did not return to the series, watching from the sidelines as the Rockets pushed the series away without him, Paul’s door to the NBA Finals closing in the most untouchable way. . Paul and Houston lost again to the Warriors the following year, in less epic style, then he spent a year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and then he finished with the Suns.

His first trip to the Finals, last season, showed us the relative smallness of him and his teammates being trampled by the Milwaukee Bucks bully maniac. It was a loss of honor enough, if not a game that reminded Paul of hope that, no matter how perfect a team and season he can put together, this is the league that usually belongs. nuclear predators who combine swarms of both size and skill to make a leap into the halls of champions. That Goliath strut is something Paul was never able to pull off, but he and his Sun have entered the next season – this match, anyway – on a long, vengeful road, blood in their eyes as they marched methodically for 64 victories and seem to have mastered the 48-minute art of defeat.

What happened next – last week – was only made more cruel, annoying, and hilarious (if you’re one of Paul’s haters) by the stellar regular season that preceded it. In one of the great outrages of the modern NBA – and that’s arguably sublime – the Suns took a 2-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks, a lackluster game that culminated in a loss in Game 7 is more embarrassing and confusing than just about anything we’ve seen in sports. The Suns scored just 27 points in the first half, and at the end of the third quarter they were beaten by 42 at home when Luka Doncic laughed at them during the spanking of a big versatile boy. Doncic, a 23-year-old whose ability to feel the floor makes him rare for the company of a young Paul, is blessed with the height and height our heartbroken protagonist has been stripped of. won. In addition to knowing how to use his feet and mind to counter opponents, he can also do it with his frame: no one on the Sun can stop the young star from moving them backwards with momentum. The rolling rock of his butt moved backward, and he was able to live in luxury paint and without rent.

Paul, again, couldn’t do that, and never has been – for more than a decade, both the speed and flight capabilities of elite types. Everything he did, for how long, was pure strategy and craft, and in that universe he was unbeatable. That’s worth a lot, but in NBA reality, the best plan can push the body into the afterlife; The game, at its highest level of competition, will ask you to surrender your flesh and blood to abstractions that are harmful to them. That’s where Paul has ended up several times, and now that he’s well into his thirties, body breakdown seems more like a permanent reality than an inevitable end-of-season unfortunate.

Reports suggest that Paul was dealing with a quadriceps injury during the game against Dallas, which would help explain what is by far the worst four-game stretch of his playoff career, where he averaged just under nine points – especially with just one lap before that, he’d hit top-flight history with a 33-point finish where he was truly perfect (14 out of 14) from the yard. It would also fit the pattern of Paul being harmed by serious illness after the season much more often, in the latter part of his career. But what it really looks like to the Mavericks, someone is being worn down – by much bigger, younger men. Whether you’re one of Paul’s ardent critics, or someone tolerant of sadness enough to continue riding with him more with hope, there’s no doubt that, even Even if this sad mythological loss isn’t an appropriate farewell, it could serve as a fitting, poignant lyric to his cause. He has continued to fail to learn the lesson of what he cannot do – a truth he probably still has not yet accepted after this humiliation, and a truth which he will attempt to prove a point. again, next year.

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