In his first season with the Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul is on the brink of capturing his first NBA title. Paul’s continued excellence on the court has played a pivotal part in the Suns’ deep playoff run. As he inches closer to hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, he credited Kobe Bryant for influencing one critical part of his NBA career.
Chris Paul leads the Suns to the brink of winning an NBA title
Since joining the Suns, Paul has quickly transformed the team into a championship contender.
The 36-year-old strung together an MVP-caliber campaign that guided Phoenix to earn the Western Conference’s second overall playoff seed. The Suns followed it with a strong postseason run, capturing the team’s first NBA Finals berth in 28 years.
Paul has been a pivotal piece in the deep playoff push, averaging 19.3 points and 8.7 assists on 48.5% shooting from the floor and 44.4% from 3-point range. He’s also been a massive factor in helping the Suns grab a 2-0 series lead in the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s averaging 27.5 points and 8.5 assists on 56.6% shooting from the floor and 58.6% from 3-point range.
With his first NBA title within grasp, Paul spoke about a Hall of Famer’s irreplaceable impact on his career.
Chris Paul lives by an important basketball lesson Kobe Bryant said years ago
Paul spent the first decade-plus of his NBA career competing against former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
Through that time, Paul developed a strong bond through admiration and mutual respect with the Hall of Famer. As the Suns guard moves closer to securing his first championship, he credited Bryant as a massive motivating factor in helping him keep his body in shape during his 16th campaign.
“I know the work that I put in, day in and day out. I don’t think about being 36 when I step out on the court. It’s a lot of commitment, a lot of days to make sure you get your body ready for the game. But when you’re competitive, it’s nothing. Kobe said it some years ago: ‘You just got to fall in love with it,’ the repetition of it,” Paul said via ClutchPoints. “Some people might be like, ‘Oh, it’s like Groundhog Day’ but not me. Not me. Because I love to play, and I wanna play at a high level.”
Paul’s passion for his craft is second to none, but it’s quite evident Bryant’s words have only led to foster stronger dedication to basketball. The former Lakers star’s career spanned two decades that featured him battling numerous injuries to continue performing at an elite level.
Since Paul’s departure from the Houston Rockets, he’s revamped his health routine through his plant-based diet and adopted a stricter workout routine. It’s all helped him extend his high level of play to earn an opportunity to contend for his first NBA title.
A huge offseason decision lies ahead in free agency
Regardless of how the Suns’ bid for the 2021 NBA title unfolds, Paul holds a critical offseason decision ahead.
Early reports indicate he will decline the $44.2 million player option for next season to garner a three-year deal worth around $100 million. It’s expected the 36-year-old will re-sign with the Suns, especially after helping the franchise reach the NBA Finals.
Other teams such as the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Lakers could enter the picture, but it’s unlikely Paul leaves Phoenix. The only question that may remain is how much the Suns are willing to dish out on the 11-time All-Star’s next contract.
Beyond that, the star guard has revitalized his career to extend it further with more opportunities to compete for an NBA title.
Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.