Chris Paul has found his kryptonite.
No, it is not the Milwaukee Bucks, who lead the NBA Finals 3-2 over the Phoenix Suns. It is referee Scott Foster, who is set to officiate Game 6 on Tuesday.
Paul-led teams are 1-12 in games officiated by Foster, dating back to 2008 — and it took until this postseason to get the lone win, a first-round victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Paul did not play that game due to entering COVID-19 protocols. The point guard is winless with Foster as an official.
“If I was a betting man, 11 games in a row,” Paul said following 109-95 loss to the Lakers. “Eleven games in a row.”
Foster, 54, last officiated Game 3 of the Finals which ended in a lopsided 120-100 Bucks win. The Bucks were able to secure trips to the free-throw line 26 times — 17 of those from Giannis Antetokounmpo barreling his way through defenders — as opposed to just 16 for the Suns. Head coach Monty Williams took note of the free-throw discrepancy that game.
“I’m not going to get into the complaining publicly about fouls, just not going to do that,” Williams said after the loss. “But you can look — we had 16 free throws tonight. One person had 17.”
As for Paul, the record with Foster officiating is only half the story. The two have also had their fair share of run-ins and arguments. Last season as a member of the Thunder, the 36-year-old point guard was called for a technical foul by Foster for trying to buy time to give the Thunder a chance to challenge a call. The event was a crucial turning point in a 104-102 Game 7 loss. After the season, Paul reflected on the incident.
“Scott Foster walked over to me and told me, ‘Chris, you ain’t gotta do that. I got them sweeping up the floor,’” Paul said about the tech. “OK, cool. So, I start tying my shoe back up and he still calls delay of game. That s–t don’t make no sense. He just … I don’t know. We could’ve won the game, but that situation … the league knows. Yeah. They gonna fine me. I said his name, we already know the history.”
With the Suns down 3-2 and their backs against the wall, the 11-time All-Star will look to reverse the curse.