Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday was the farthest that Chris Paul has gone in the NBA Playoffs in his entire career.
In that game, the "Point god" committed five turnovers and, at one point, bobbled the ball while dribbling.
Chris Paul spent his long NBA career with various teams and has been met with disappointment too often. In many of his teams' playoff runs, CP3 has fallen injured most of the time. The last notable stretch was with the Houston Rockets when they had no less than the Golden State super team leaning on the ropes, only for Paul to exit with an injury and the Rockets to misfire.
The Phoenix Suns have crossed the Conference border and most pundits thought that the Chris Paul "curse" had already been lifted. Game Four's performance gave many Point god followers a reminder of a haunting memory.
There have been many instances when a player performs badly in crucial games like the playoffs or the Finals, and it turns out they were actually nursing injuries. One reason they hide the injury was to avoid giving their opponent the psychological edge and take advantage of the situation.
You cannot declare a fake injury but you can choose not to divulge an injury for many reasons. However, that would entail too many risks, and you (or the team/coach if they are aware of it) have to take responsibility for it.
Side note: Paul Pierce is accused of faking
an injury in his infamous wheelchair game against the Lakers in 2008. He "playfully confessed" that he just needed to go to the bathroom, and then retracted it on an ESPN broadcast in 2019.
Sometimes, injuries are seen as an excuse by the fans, especially after a dismal, subpar showing. Game 4 was probably the most important game in Chris Paul's career, so far. The importance of Game 4 cannot be overstated, since being up 3-1 makes a world of difference from being 2-2.
If only the Suns made some plays down the stretch and avoided those turnovers, the narrative of the series discussion would be much different from what it is now.
Paul would be the first person to understand this, and this is why they were counting on him to lead the Suns in Game 5. He has the experience, the motivation, and is possibly the smartest active player in the game today. It's hard to explain Paul's collapse in a crucial game unless, of course, he is injured.
There are theories put forth, specifically by the local sports press in Arizona. What we can only be sure of is that injury or no injury, CP3 will come out fighting before their home crowd in Game 5.
Team USA vulnerable
With Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard leading Team USA, most pundits would say the gold medal is in the bag. However, their straight defeats to Nigeria and Australia brought the lofty expectations hurtling back to earth.
Is Coach Gregg Popovich to blame?
That would be the easy (and lazy) conclusion. This is still the most talented team in the world today, with Jayson Tatum and Zach Lavine also among them. How can they be beaten by an African team--the continent which is usually bullied by their European and American counterparts.
Familiarity with FIBA rules is rising as the main culprit, and it could be an eye-opener for NBA fans. You realize just how much the NBA rules would cuddle the offensive player. Many NBA moves that resulted in free throws were ignored, and the Nigerians and Aussies were quick to take advantage.
There is also the hard truth that the rest of the world has already caught up with the Americans, and with international coaches understanding the rules of the game like the back of their hand, Popovich and his staff were caught off-guard.
Is there really a chance that Team USA would not win the gold medal?
I'd say yes. More than a fair chance. With Bradley Beal recently making an exit, maybe it's time Team USA reconsiders its roster and add one more big man or two.