In the aftermath of yet another heartbreaking loss in the NBA playoffs, Chris Paul sat down in front of the cameras and vocally went after a man who has become as much of a foil in the star guard's career as any All-Star player he's faced: NBA referee Scott Foster.
The two have a long, tumultuous playoff history together and things took another turn for the bizarre before and during the Thunder's Game 7 loss to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. I'll let Paul tell the story of what happened pregame before getting to the call Foster made in-game that also had Paul steaming.
This is true. Foster did ref Game 7 when the Spurs beat the-then Hornets 91-82 in 2008. But it's completely outlandish for a ref to say that to a player before another Game 7 they're about to compete in, especially given the recent history between these two.
Paul's record in the last nine playoff games reffed by Foster is 0-9. While other players (including James Harden and Foster) have similar results with other refs, these records stick out to players. That's probably why Paul took umbrage when Foster made a delay of game call earlier in the game.
With 2:29 left in the first half and the Rockets leading 53-52, Paul was assessed a delay of game penalty. This was not the most critical call of the game, but it confused Paul because apparently Foster gave him the go-ahead to take his time while tying his shoe.
Here's the quote:
""It's crazy, this has been going on the bubble -- they show the replays sometimes so that, obviously, it's an advantage if you get to see the replay and then you challenge. So I dropped down to tie my shoe up, hopefully to see the replay, Scott Foster walked over to me and told me 'Chris, you ain't got to do that, I got them sweeping up the floor.' OK, cool. So I start tying my shoe up and he still called the delay of game on me. That sh-t don't make no sense." "
By naming Foster, Paul will be fined. He accepted as much. But by naming Foster, Paul also put the spotlight on their long-strained relationship. It's clear (and understandable) why he did it.
A ref coming up to a player pregame and reminding them of their past failures in front of other refs is bizarre. Never heard of that before, doubt we'll hear of that again. A ref then telling a player he has time and then assessing him a delay of game is also weird. But that's the kind of history these two have developed. It's contentious and strained. It's also one-sided, with Paul getting the short end of the stick seemingly every time.