Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns suffered a scare in the second quarter of Sunday’s Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers. The injury occurred when Talen Horton-Tucker went up for a layup and missed. LeBron James went up to rebound the miss and put it back in, and in the process, he made contact with Paul. Suns teammate Cam Johnson then hit him as he backtracked, and Paul immediately fell to the floor.
The Phoenix medical staff diagnosed him with a right shoulder contusion. Paul stayed on the ground for a full timeout before going back to the locker room.
Fortunately, Paul seems to have emerged from the scare unscathed. After a brief absence, he returned from the locker room and back into the game. He confirmed after the game that he will “absolutely” be ready to go for Game 2. In the moment, though, Paul was worried that the injury might be more serious.
“I just remember I felt ‘Uhh!’ I heard like a crack, or whatever,” Paul said. He also described a video that he watched before the game in which Kobe Bryant mentioned the randomness of injuries. “In the thing Kobe says, like, ‘Injuries, sometimes you just can’t control them,'” Paul said. “So, that was all that was going through my mind after the play I got hit.”
Paul’s playoff history has been somewhat cursed by injuries. Most famously, a hamstring injury suffered at the end of Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference finals knocked him out of that series when he played for the Houston Rockets. That was likely his best chance at winning a championship, as he was only one game away from reaching the Finals for the first time. A plethora of other injuries have befallen him at various other points in his postseason career, and that is a big reason why Paul is widely considered one of the best players ever to not have won a championship.
This Suns team might be his last, best chance at reaching the top of the mountain. They finished the season with the NBA’s second-best record, and with young stars like Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges supporting him, he has the talent around him to make a serious run. Fortunately, he’ll have the chance to do so now.