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Michael Malone: Chris Paul could be greatest point guard of all time

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns shoots and scores on a three-point attempt under coverage by Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 13, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Who is the greatest point guard of all time?

Before the start of the 2021 playoffs, that answer included three frontrunners.

Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Oscar Robertson.

But after point guard Chris Paul’s historic series against the Denver Nuggets, there may need to be more discussion.

Paul re-entered his name into the GOAT conversation with a career high 37 points on an efficient 14-of-19 shooting from the field. He also shot a perfect 9-of-9 from the charity stripe and tallied seven assists, which moved him into 13th on the all-time playoff assists list.

In the series alone, Paul averaged 25.5 points, 10.3 assists and did not miss a single free throw.

“Chris Paul could arguably be the greatest point guard of all time,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said after Denver’s season ended with a 125-118 loss to Phoenix on Sunday.

Others that can make a case for the “best ever” title are Stephen Curry, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Isiah Thomas.

Following the Suns’ first sweep since 2010, Paul and Malone met at half court to exchange kind and heartfelt words. The two were together in New Orleans from 2010-11 under Phoenix head coach Monty Williams. Malone was an assistant on Williams’ staff.

“Mike Malone is one of my favorite people in the world,” Paul said.

“Sometimes you have coaches that are coaches, but sometimes you have relationships that last a lifetime.”

The 36 year-old said after the game in an interview with TNT’s Chris Haynes that just a couple of seasons ago people were writing him off because of his age.

Williams was glad to hear that.

“I’m happy that the people did do that because it fueled an already highly competitive, strong-willed, maestro of a point guard and basketball player,” Williams said.

“You never want to count out a guy like Chris.”

“It ain’t always been sweet for me,” Paul said.

“I’ve always had to grind. I like that mentality, and that’s always been who I’ve been. I’m going to stay that way.”

And that mindset is one of the reasons why he is considered as one of the greatest point guards ever.

Even with an eight-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 4 against Denver, Paul did not let up.

“There was 18 seconds left on the clock, and I was still on their (expletive),” Paul said.

“That’s just the way that I am. Monty always talks about playoff games, and the heartbreaks that you can have. I’ve been part of those heartbreaks. I’m not comfortable until the clock says zero on it.”

Behind Paul’s leadership and late-game heroics, the Suns are now in the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years.

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