In his first season with the Phoenix Suns, starting point guard Chris Paul helped lead the team to rare heights.
He took the franchise — which had not made the NBA playoffs since 2009-10 — back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1992-93, something that experts felt was improbable before the season began. In August, Paul resigned a four-year, $120 million deal with Phoenix, anchoring himself in a situation he felt best for the remaining elite years of his career.
Throughout last season, Paul spoke about why he joined the Suns, with coach Monty Williams and All-Star guard Devin Booker being chief reasons. But in a recent appearance on Gilbert Arenas’ “The No Chill” podcast, Paul said “people didn’t even really know” about his interest in Phoenix, evident in how quickly he was traded to the team in mid-November.
“I knew Monty already, and regardless of how our relationship has been in the past or even that year when I played for him, I know his mindset,” Paul said. “So I know he prepares. It’s a preparation thing, too. Like you want to know when you’re in the last minute, two minutes of the game, that that coach can give you X’s and O’s. And not only the X’s and O’s, you got to make sure that that coach has your team disciplined enough, right? That you got principles.”
Paul pointed out that when he played under Williams with the New Orleans Hornets in 2010-11, their team began year 11-1 without a second superstar, adding to his trust in his coach.
“It was me, (David) West, Marco Belinelli, Carl Landry, Omeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza — we didn’t have a bunch of these big name guys,” Paul said. “We started out 11-1. People don’t know that. And that was because everybody knew their roles, and we had our principles. So I knew me and how I operate, especially at this point in my career.”
As he did throughout last season, Paul mentioned his relationships with Booker and Suns starting center Deandre Ayton, saying Booker is “nice” and that he and Ayton “was getting into it like hell” at the beginning of the year.
Even though the Suns exceeded expectations last season, Paul made it clear the team’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals was still fresh on his mind.
“We still got to win it now,” Paul said. “We got to get to it, now.
“My thing is, you’ll find a way. And I think that’s the hardest part for me is, I always say this: ‘Show me somebody that’s OK with losing, and I’ll show you a loser.’ Like, for real for real. I ain’t never going to be cool with losing, ever. I don’t care if it’s Booray, I don’t care if it’s Connect Four, whatever it is. That’s just the energy I’m always on.”