At the beginning of last season, Los Angeles Lakers, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets were the bookmaker’s favourites for the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy.
If you scrolled down the odds far enough you would find the Phoenix Suns at odds of +4000, nestled behind 12 other teams. Seven months later, the Arizona based team find themselves one of the toughest fought NBA Finals in recent memory.
The free scoring Devin Booker and the inspirational Monty Williams have been credited by most as two of the biggest factors in the Suns rise from obscurity to potential history makers. One player that has been overlooked in the embryonic appraisal of the Suns’ turnaround is 36-year-old Chris Paul.
That’s nothing new for the former Clippers point guard, who has spent much of his career being criminally underrated. In this article we take a look at why Chris Paul has never gained the recognition that his talent truly deserves. Know more about great athletes here.
Always a Bridesmaid, Never the Bride
The best team does not always win in sports and sometimes, especially when it comes to knock-out competitions. As we’ve said already, if you checked a sports betting site just a few months ago, the Suns has been written off. However, there are just too many variables to guarantee that the best team and the best players win all of the time, which is part of the reason why we all love sport.
It is also partly the reason why we consistently underrate phenomenal players and overrate average ones. If a player has lifted the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy we tend to overinflate their ability and importance to their team.
Conversely, if a player has come up short in the playoffs we write them off as a ‘bottler’ or a ‘nearly man’. Chris Paul is one of those that has unfortunately fallen into the second category, viewed by many as just ‘not quite good enough’ because of his playoff record.
Which is completely unfair, as the examples of Dickey Simpkins, Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic prove that you don’t need to be an elite player to win an NBA playoff medal…
Chris Paul undoubtedly has the talent to have been part of at least one NBA Championship winning team – perhaps he will by the time you read this article – but for whatever reason that just hasn’t happened.
That’s not down to a lack of skill, courage or bravery on his part, it’s just an unfortunate happenstance for the 6 foot point guard. If he had won the playoffs 5 years ago, no one in the country would be underrating Chris Paul.
(Unfortunately we value titles over talent, which means that sometimes we revere less talented players more highly than their unlucky, yet more talented contemporaries.)
He’s a Pain in the Butt
In the UK they have a rather rude phrase to describe a certain type of soccer player that does everything he can to get under the skin of his opponents.
The term ‘sh*thouse’ is best used for a player that will kick his opponent when the referee isn’t looking and then feign injury when the cameras are on him.
The closest comparison in basketball is someone like Chris Paul who is an absolute joy to play with and a nightmare to come up against.
Paul flops, flails and shrieks to earn himself a trip to the foul line, he sweet talks referees and does absolutely anything he can to put off his opponents without fouling them. Usually his approach works in that it frustrates the opposition and results in them taking out their frustration on Paul or his teammates.
Chris Paul is the master of the Dark Arts, which whilst improving his team’s chances of victory, perhaps prejudices him from gaining the respect he deserves for his actual basketball abilities.
(Chris Paul loves a flop!)
We’re Accustomed to Chris Paul
When Chris Paul began his professional career with the New Orleans Hornets in 2005, his rookie performances turned heads.
He was so good and so talented that fans and pundits alike believed that he had all the tools at his disposal to go on and dominate the NBA for years to come.
Then all of a sudden the attention of the NBA was turned onto another emerging talent, and another and then another…
After a while basketball fans just became accustomed to seeing Chris Paul performing well in the NBA. His phenomenal achievements and dominating performances were nothing new and nothing to get excited about.
(Chris Paul has been balling for well over a decade, so it can be easy to overlook his many achievements in the game.)
So much so that 16 years on from when he burst onto the scene we are still questioning whether or not Chris Paul is a legendary player. We forget that he has played over 1,000 games in the NBA and that at the age of 36, he is still physically outcompeting players much younger than him.
In addition to all of those factors, Paul has been unfortunate in that his career has coincided with the career of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant – two giants of the game.
With those two stealing headlines from 1996 until now, it’s been hard for Paul to gain the recognition that he deserves.
Guiding the Phoenix Suns to an unexpected NBA Final series win over the Milwaukee Bucks would however, go some way to gaining Chris Paul the plaudits that his achievements to date have deserved.