As the clock ticked closer to zero, finally Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul could exhale.
Normally, this marked the time that Paul experienced yet another playoff heartbreak. But shortly before the Suns officially eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers with a 130-103 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday at Staples Center, Paul was on the verge of advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in his 16-year NBA career.
“That’s the only thing I was thinking about – the process and getting us one step closer to where we need to be,” Paul said.
So then Paul thanked those that witnessed his journey along the way. Paul waved to his hometown family and friends that attended Game 6 from Winston Salem, N.C. Paul hugged Suns coach Monty Williams, who had also coached him during his final season with the former New Orleans Hornets (2010-11).
Paul hugged his father and brother, both of whom have never missed any of his basketball games. And Paul waved to actor Billy Crystal and thousands of other Clippers fans, who both booed and cheered him after experiencing playoff heartbreak there for seven seasons (2011-2017) and asking for a trade to Houston that also followed with more injuries and playoff shortcomings.