Chris Paul spent a lot of time running the bases during JaVale McGee’s JUGLIFE celebrity softball game Wednesday night at Chase Field.
The Suns All-Star point guard hit two home runs, won the game MVP, and led the Black team to a 20-6 victory in front of 3,500 fans.
“The crazy part is he literally called his home runs,” McGee said. “He called the internal home run and he called the real home run. He said it and it happened. So I think he deserves MVP.”
Paul had a third homer, but a ground rule double was awarded.
“They took one of them away, it’s all good,” Paul said while sitting next to the MVP trophy. “It’s funny, just like JaVale said, I was over there talking about hitting home runs and (Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins) went over there and hit one. We were just trying to get them to work back-to-back. But that was so much fun. It’s a really cool event.”
Paul’s striking strategy aimed squarely at a particular Suns forward who was playing in midfield for the white team.
“My game plan was to hit it at Mikal Bridges every time I stepped on the plate,” Paul said. “Real conversation. Mikal was just the weakest link out there. Every time I showed up I looked out and saw where Mikal was and I knew if I met him where he was I had a chance.”
Before the game, Paul took time out to answer a variety of media questions, but the 17-year veteran didn’t confirm an ESPN report in which he said he suffered a quad injury in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals played through.
“I didn’t see any of that,” Paul said. “I’m here right now.”
The top-seeded Suns lost at the footprint center to the fourth-seeded Mavericks 123-90. Paul scored a point in the first half while Phoenix was 30 points behind at halftime.
“I feel like it’s been so long,” Paul continued. “Can’t live in the past. It is what it is.”
The Athletic reported a COVID outbreak within the team and that an unnamed player tested positive for the virus after Game 7.
Sun’s color commentator Eddie Johnson said on Willard and Dibs 95.7 FM The Game radio show that Paul was ill during the Dallas series.
“You saw Chris Paul dominating in the playoffs up until that Dallas series until game two or three, right,” Johnson said on the radio show. “And suddenly he started fighting. And people look and say, ‘Oh, he’s nervous. Oh, he plays badly. Oh, someone treats him.’ No, he was ill. Nobody brings that up, and Chris Paul didn’t bring it up.”
Paul scored 28 points in Phoenix’s Game 2 win to give the Suns a 2-0 best-of-7 lead, but averaged just 9.4 points over the last five games of the series.
He had the same number of turnovers (18) as field goals (18 of 36) in the last five games of Phoenix’s historic season in which they won a franchise-record 64 games.
Paul was asked about his health and the outbreak on Wednesday.
“I’m fine right now,” Paul said. “I’m doing well.”
As for the loss, Paul said the Mavs “beat” us when he finished Game 7 with just 10 points.
“We lost and we’re here to support JaVale,” Paul said.
Bridges said he thinks Game 7 players will be in good health.
“Everyone was pretty okay for me,” he said.
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