Chris Paul's quest for an NBA title has never been closer. His Phoenix Suns are up 3-2 on the Los Angeles Clippers sans Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference Finals. Should the Suns win one of the final two games, Paul will make his first finals appearance against either the Atlanta Hawks or the Milwaukee Bucks, both of whom are dealing with injuries to their superstars.
The stars have never aligned for Paul quite like this. If he doesn't get it done this year, he may very well never reach the pinnacle of basketball excellence. It's the only stain on his incredible career resume; CP3 is generally considered one of the best PGs to step foot on the court, but the lack of a ring puts a dent in arguments that his legacy rivals the likes of Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, or Isiah Thomas.
Still, Paul should be comfortably counted among the five or so best point guards ever when he hangs up the sneakers. Unless you ask Skip Bayless, of course. The hot-take artist fired off a particularly scalding opinion today on Undisputed when he said Paul isn't even on his top-15 list of all-time point guards without a ring.
The one good thing that came out of this segment: we can all agree with Bayless that Chris Paul is definitely at the front and center of the All-Time Athletes With State Farm Commercials Pantheon. I look forward to the next Bill Simmons pod about that.
A reasonable person could make the argument that Paul's place in the Top 5 point guards ever is iffy without a ring. Magic, Thomas, and Robertson all had at least one. John Stockon never got a ring but leads all other point guards in every major statistical category to the point of ridiculousness, so he deserves a spot. Stephen Curry literally changed the game of basketball and won three championships and was the only unanimous MVP in league history.
But after that? I mean, come on. Can anyone seriously name 10 point guards after those names they'd rather have than Paul, that are undisputedly greater than Paul? Ten is a big number! There are probably no more than five additional names that have legitimate, good faith cases to be above Paul in the all-time rankings.
But I suppose that's the key phrase, isn't it. Bayless isn't in the business of arguing in good faith. He just... says stuff. It'll be very interesting to hear what he has to say if Paul finally checks off the final box for his amazing career.