‘Small Person’: Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas Bids Respect to the Excellence of Chris Paul in 2021 NBA Playoffs

Published 07/25/2021, 9:54 PM EDT
Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) shoots the ball as Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) defends in the first half during game five of the 2021 NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Chris Paul, a 36-YO veteran and future first-ballot Hall of Famer, is far from done. If anything, his NBA Finals trip as a Phoenix Suns player must’ve only made him more certain that a championship ring is inevitable. However, the vet’s performance in the same series also allowed his critics to raise fingers of doubt on him.

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During the finals against the Bucks, everyone knew that the Suns won’t win if Chris Paul does not put forth four unforgettable performances. Since that failed to happen, the critics forced clouds of doubt over the star. But there’s a former legend who can sympathise with CP3 in a more personal way.

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Isiah Thomas has the back of Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul

The NBA is the league where big men like Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, and Shaquille O’Neal dominate. So at 6-ft, Chris Paul stands with the minority of athletes who are short and yet impressive. 

12x All-Star Isiah Thomas acknowledged this when he detailed, “Chris was excellent in the series… As a small person I know how difficult it is to do what he has been asked to do, playing against bigger people and trying to win. What Chris was able to do in Game 1 and 2, he wasn’t able to do in 3, 4, 5, & 6. But getting the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals as a small person.”

True, CP3 enjoyed a 32-point game 1 and then saw his performance degrading every night. Yet, for him to deliver such numbers against Brook Lopez (7”), Giannis Antetokounmpo (6’11”), Khris Middleton (6’7”), PJ Tucker (6’ 5”), and Jrue Holiday (6’3”) was huge. The star point guard averaged close to 22 points in the NBA Finals, which was nothing short of an achievement.

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Which other short players were equally impressive?

While there are always the names like Muggsy Bogues, Nate Robinson, and Isiah Thomas to count, none of these achieved huge success. However, there were a few who did.

As Isiah further expressed, “John Stockton was able to do that in Utah a couple of times. We watched Jason Kidd taking the Nets to finals a couple of times. But Jason Kidd is a little bigger than myself, Chris, Stockton… From the point guard position how it’s traditionally played, it’s only three of us, that got to the NBA Finals playing this way.”

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John Stockton failed to win a ring in his Hall of Fame career and many fear the same fate for CP3. But Isiah’s further comments still give hope that Chris Paul is a wonder and that he can always come back. As the retired star added, “we’ve talked about Curry and we’ve talked about Frazier. Not only were they bigger… they were more off the ball than on the ball. Paul, Stockton, and me were 90-95% in the decision making that goes into the offense. Being small the way Paul was… getting to the NBA Finals, it’s not easy.”

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So what do you think, can Chris Paul (maybe with the Lakers) win a ring in the coming year? Help us know in the comments.

Watch this story – Suns’ Chris Paul’s Incredible Game 1 Performance Against the Milwaukee Bucks

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Sourabh Singh

1602 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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