EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns offer unique perspective on latest Chris Paul, Scott Foster saga

Nov 23, 2023, 12:45 AM | Updated: 1:02 pm

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns have seen Chris Paul’s unique dynamic with official Scott Foster up close and personal. They did again on Wednesday night in a 123-115 Suns win, this time from the opposite side.

Late in the second quarter, Paul fouled Kevin Durant and had a heated discussion with Foster. That lasted long enough for one technical to come. Not soon after, as Foster was walking away from Paul, the point guard pointed at Foster while continuing to voice his displeasure and was ejected. Paul moved toward Foster before teammate Stephen Curry grabbed his arm and kept him from getting close up to the long-time referee.

Foster in the pool report said the technical fouls were for “unsportsmanlike conduct” and that Paul continued to complain prior to the ejection.

Paul, the former Sun, had a long losing streak in playoff games officiated by Foster and Paul has previously had meetings with the league about it. After a playoff loss for Phoenix in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, Paul alluded to that run of consecutive defeats. Foster also officiated Suns losses Paul played in for Games 3 and 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals, as well as a Game 3 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2022 first round before the Suns’ Game 2 win in the opening series versus the Los Angeles Clippers last postseason snapped the streak.

Durant got to see the tail-end of it as a teammate, Josh Okogie was around all last season for it while Devin Booker saw all three years of the odd relationship coming with the Suns.

“Yeah,” Booker answered with a laugh when asked if he can sense the tension and uniqueness of the relationship between the two. “Because I’ve seen it closely too. This was long before Chris was in Phoenix. That’s some history that they might have to settle between themselves one day when they’re both retired.”

Booker’s perspective to that degree tells you how serious this is and how it’s not just something to get amused at. Paul for the first time across the many instances he’s been asked about a moment with Foster revealed there’s some extra layers to it beyond just not getting along with a certain referee.

“It’s personal. We had a situation some years ago and it’s personal,” he said. “The league know, everybody know. There’s been a meeting and all that. It’s just a situation with my son. I’m OK with a ref saying whatever. Just don’t use a tech to get your point across. I gotta do a better job of making sure I stay on the floor for my teammates but yeah that’s that.”

Paul elaborated.

“Just know I had a meeting with him, my dad, (former Clippers head coach) Doc Rivers, (former NBA official) Bob Delaney and all us,” Paul said.

That was as much as Paul wanted to share.

“It was a whole thing, man,” he said. “But it’s still been a thing for a while.”

Okogie has been around Paul long enough to know the second tech was coming, referring to it as “tons” of history.

“It was just a crazy sequence. … You know the history that him and Scott have,” Durant said. “Definitely a weird ending to the half but glad we got points out of it.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr received a technical foul during the five-point swing as well.

“I think Scott just felt like Chris didn’t stop and he kept going and that’s why he gave him the second one,” Kerr said.

It has been a troubling subplot for too long now and begs the question as to why Foster even officiates games with Paul in them anymore. The game unfortunately was defined by that moment, a theme in games Foster shares the floor with Paul for.

With no disrespect regarding the difficult job officials have, all of them should be seen as borderline anonymous to the everyday fan. Fans shouldn’t be familiar with their tendencies or relationships with certain players. But there was Foster’s name trending online once again.

Booker said it best.

“As much as you can keep the refs out the game, the better,” he said. “People are here to see the highest competitors at the highest level and they’re obviously doing their job. I’m saying it like I’m a master at it but I get caught up in it too. It’s an emotional game and things happen.”

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