After the Suns loss back in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, star guard Devin Booker made clear he was not a fan of the kind of question that singles out veteran point guard Chris Paul among the group. Booker’s perspective is clear: The Suns’ playoff journey has always been about more than Paul and to wonder whether the team feels good or bad for Paul depending on whether it wins or loses is a bit cheap and not fair to anyone involved.
Throughout the postseason, the Suns have been asked to put into perspective Paul’s career and whether this run to the Finals alters his legacy. That, of course, is not for members of the team to decide, and it was clear the team tired of those kinds of questions from the media.
“Next question,” Booker said on Saturday night when he was asked, “How frustrated are you for Chris right now?”
It happened again after the team lost Game 6 against the Bucks on Tuesday. Booker was still frustrated by the question, but gave a deft answer.
“I mean, our whole group, again,” Booker said. “You know, I got a Chris question before, but all of us wanted it. All of us wanted it. But, I heard what coach Monty said about people saying you know that solidifies his career and that’s complete nonsense to the real hoopers out there. But our group, we supported Chris all the way, he led us this whole entire season and this is our first year together. So just developing a relationship, developing a trust amongst each other throughout the whole season and for it to fall short like this it’s tough on all of us.”
Suns coach Monty Williams: ‘It’s Just Silly’
Coach Monty Williams did, in fact, address the topic in his emotional postgame press conference. Williams, of course, was also the head coach in New Orleans when Paul was there 10 years ago, and Paul ultimately pushed for a trade out of that franchise, heading to the Clippers.
Williams said he mostly wanted to win a championship for Paul and for Booker. But he laid into the media for hanging players like Paul with a bad reputation if they fail to win a championship. In 16 NBA seasons, Paul has been All-NBA 10 times and an All-Star 11 times.
“It’s laughable when you talk about guys like Chris who have had these unreal careers and yet they get penalized because they haven’t won a title,” Williams said. “You know, that was my goal was to win it for him and Book, those guys have carried us all year long. And Chris, this is my second time coaching him, I know what he puts into his craft, I know the dedication and so when I hear those sentiments about his career because he hasn’t won a championship, it’s just silly.”
Devin Booker: ‘Championship Basketball & Nothing Less’
After back-to-back 40-point performances in Games 4 and 5, Booker struggled with his shooting in Game 6, going just 8-for-22 from the floor and 0-for-7 from the 3-point line. He scored 19 points, well below the 28.2 points he averaged for the series.
But he said that the run for the Suns had changed the team going forward, would alter their perspective as this group continues to grow together. Three of the team’s Top 4 scorers—Booker, DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges—are 24 or younger.
“Championship basketball and nothing less than that,” Booker said. “So, going into next season on a Tuesday night playing against Cleveland if we don’t have it, we will be quickly reminded about the details and if you don’t want to give it your all right now, what can happen and this feeling right now that we’re feeling can happen. So, this isn’t something you want to feel. I haven’t felt a hurt like this in my life. So, that’s what I say when I know we have a base and a foundation, just championship basketball at all times.”