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Chris Paul’s beef with referee Scott Foster, explained

This is Chris Paul’s long, painful history with official Scott Foster.

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Chris Paul really does not like NBA referee Scott Foster. The star point guard has been a vocal critic of the veteran official throughout his career, and he has the numbers to back up his resentment.

Paul has lost his last 12 playoffs games when Foster has been on the officiating crew. The one time Paul’s team won a game with Foster installed as a referee came when Paul was held out while he was in the league’s Health and Safety protocol during Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Phoenix won that game on the infamous ‘Valley Oop’ dunk by Deandre Ayton at the buzzer.

Paul’s grievance with Foster will be put to the test in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals. Foster is part of the officiating crew for Tuesday night’s game with the Suns facing elimination as they trail 3-2 in the series with the game in Milwaukee.

Paul and the Suns have already lost one game in these Finals that was officiated by Foster. The Bucks earned their first win in the series in Game 3 with Foster reffing the game.

Does Foster really have it out for CP3? Here are some of the critical comments Paul has made about the official in recent years.

Chris Paul’s issues with Foster go back to his first playoff run

Paul reached the playoffs for the first time in the third year of his career when he led the New Orleans Hornets to a shocking turnaround that saw the team tie for the fourth best record in the NBA at 56-26 on the year.

Paul’s Hornets beat the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the opening round, and then ran into the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. The Hornets won the first two games, but would go on to lose the series in Game 7. Foster was on the officiating crew during that final game.

Paul said Foster reminded him that he was working during his first ever Game 7 when the two shared the court during a Game 7 in the bubble during the 2020 NBA Playoffs. What a bizarre thing for a ref to say to a player.

Chris Paul’s Rockets couldn’t win a playoff game officiated by Scott Foster

Paul was traded from the Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011 and immediately helped revitalize the franchise. The Clippers never broke through past the second round with Paul on the team mostly due to some poor luck with injuries and matchups. When Paul was traded to the Rockets, his beef with Foster started to become public.

Paul’s Rockets reportedly went 0-6 in playoffs games refereed by Foster. After receiving a technical foul during a January loss in 2018, Paul said the officiating was “Scott Foster at his finest.”

After a February loss in 2019, James Harden and Paul each called out Foster after the game. Harden said Foster shouldn’t be allowed to officiate Rockets games anymore, and characterized Foster as “rude and arrogant,” saying he couldn’t have a conversation with him during the game.

Paul chimed in to say he met with the league about Foster in the past, and he didn’t know what else he could do.

Chris Paul’s Thunder team lost a Game 7 to the Rockets in the bubble

Paul was traded for Russell Westbrook in 2019, and had low expectations as he joined the Oklahoma City Thunder. While few expected Paul to last the season in OKC, he ended up delivering an All-Star season and leading the Thunder to the No. 5 seed in the playoffs during the league’s restart bubble.

The Thunder and Rockets played a terrific first round series that went seven games, with the Rockets winning to advance in the playoffs. After the Game 7 loss, Paul was again critical of Foster for whistling him for a delay of game call.

Paul criticized Foster again after losing Game 3 to the Lakers

Paul was traded to the Phoenix Suns this season, and led a team that hadn’t made the playoffs since 2010 to the No. 2 overall seed in the Western Conference. The Suns drew a tough first round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, and lost Game 3 to go down 2-1 in the series.

Paul blasted Foster after Game 3 and cited his record in games the official was calling.

“If I was a betting man, 11 games in a row,” Paul said. “Eleven games in a row.”

Now Scott Foster is officiating the biggest game of Paul’s career in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals

If the Suns lose, their season is over, and so is Paul’s best chance at an NBA championship.

Is Paul’s losing record against Foster merely a coincidence? Game 6 may finally give us the answer.