OK Chris Paul, You are Off the Hook in Houston

Any Harden era Houston Rockets fan knows we were one Chris Paul hamstring pull away from a NBA championship in the 2017-2018 season.

In a pivotal game 5 against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals; Paul pulled his right hamstring in the waning seconds of the game.

We ultimately won game 5, but went on to lose the next two games as Harden and the rest of the Rockets could not close out the Warriors.

The Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals; which just as easily could have been us.

While it was bittersweet, Houston didn’t turn on Chris Paul until his health continued to fail him the following season and his relationship with James Harden soured; possibly due to a clash in style.

2 years from the month we bet the farm on Chris Paul, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook.

The situation with Paul got so bad in Houston, his nickname CP3 was changed to CP0 as he just could not deliver for us.

Granted there are two sides to every story, but being on team Houston all we could do was wonder what could have been had things gone differently.

We had all the pieces to win and we didn’t, that’s what hurt the most and Paul was the scapegoat.

That brings us to the 1st round series in 2020 against the Rockets & OKC. It would have been a bitter pill to swallow or poetic justice, depending on your point of view, if Paul and OKC bounced us out of the first round.

All the way down the the last tenth of a second in yesterday’s game 7, it looked like OKC and Paul were going to do to us, what we wanted Paul to help us do against the Warriors.

Had they succeeded, it would have certainly ended Coach D’Antoni’s career in Houston and possibly even the Harden era; the stakes were that high.

Thankfully we pulled off the win, even if we had no business winning that game, because Chris Paul willed his team in ways Houston still does not know how to do.

Paul showed heart, determination and leadership. Those are all the characteristics that we adored about Paul and part of the reason why the LA Clippers are so good.

We traded perennial 6th Man of the Year Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and the pesky Patrick Beverly + others for Paul who played for the LA Clippers at the time.

Without those guys, the Clippers don’t land Paul George or Kwahi Leonard and Houston may have been able to get over the hump by now had we not taken that risk.

So for Paul to not have delivered in Houston was like buying the car you love, but getting a lemon instead. Luckily, GM wonder boy Daryl Morey was able to work out a Russell Westbrook – Chris Paul trade which was looking really sketchy for Houston up until the buzzer sounded last night.

Paul brought the business to Houston and earned my respect. He has the heart of a winner even though he hasn’t been able to win a chip in the NBA.

Part of it is due to his body breaking down in the most crucial games throughout his career and part of it is the late David Stern nixing a trade that would have paired prime Paul with prime Kobe with the Lakers.

But life isn’t about coulda-woulda-shoulda’s… its about results and until yesterday, people wondered if Paul was good enough to excite, but not great enough to take it all the way.

Turns out the Point God is all that the legend says he is. A fierce competitor, a skilled basketball player and a floor general that can elevate his team above their individual parts.

Fate would have it that Paul may end up joining ringless greats like Karl Malone & John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and others by the time his career ends.

It won’t be due to effort and won’t be due to a lack of heart. Because last night and during this series, Paul showed he is a winner.

For that, Chris Paul… you have Houston’s respect.