Chris Paul spent plenty of time running the bases during JaVale McGee’s JUGLIFE celebrity softball game Wednesday evening at Chase Field.
The Suns All-Star point guard hit two home runs in winning game MVP and leading the Black team to a 20-6 victory before 3,500 fans.
“The crazy part is he literally called his home runs,” McGee said. “He called the in-house home run and he called the real home run. He spoke it into fruition, and it happened. So I guess he deserves the most valuable player.”
Paul had a third homer, but it was ruled a ground rule double.
“They took one of them away, it’s all good,” Paul said sitting beside the MVP trophy. “It’s funny, just like JaVale said, I was over there talking about hitting home runs and (Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins) went up there and hit one. We just tried to get them going in a row. This was so fun, though. It’s a really dope event.”
Paul’s batting strategy was directly aimed at a certain Suns forward who played centerfield for the White team.
“My game plan every time I stepped up to the plate was to hit it at Mikal Bridges,” Paul said. “Real talk. Mikal was just the weakest link out there. Every time I stepped up, I looked out and saw where Mikal was and I knew if I hit it where he was, I had a chance.”
Before the game, Paul took time to answer a variety of questions from the media, but the 17-year veteran didn’t confirm an ESPN report saying he played through a quad injury in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
“I didn’t see none of that,” Paul said. “I’m here right now.”
The top-seeded Suns lost to the fourth-seeded Mavericks, 123-90, at Footprint Center. Paul scored one point in the first half as Phoenix trailed by 30 points at halftime.
“I feel like that was so long ago,” Paul continued. “Can’t live in the past. It is what it is.”
The Athletic reported a COVID outbreak within the team and that an unnamed player tested positive for the virus after Game 7.
Suns color commentator Eddie Johnson said on Willard and Dibs 95.7 FM The Game radio show Paul was sick during the Dallas series.
“You watched Chris Paul dominate in the playoffs up until that Dallas series up until the second or third game, right,” Johnson said on the radio show. “And all of the sudden, he started to struggle. And people, they look and they say, ‘Oh he’s nervous. Oh he’s playing bad. Oh somebody’s handling him.’ No, he was sick. Ain’t nobody bringing that up and Chris Paul hasn’t brought it up.”
Paul scored 28 points in Phoenix’s Game 2 win to put the Suns up 2-0 in the best-of-7, but averaged just 9.4 points in the final five games of the series.
He had the same number of turnovers (18) as field goals (18-of-36) in the final five games of Phoenix’s historic season in which they won a franchise-record 64 games.
So Paul was asked Wednesday about his health and the outbreak.
“I’m good right now,” Paul said. “I’m good.”
As for the loss, Paul said the Mavs “beat us” as he finished Game 7 with just 10 points.
“We lost and we’re here to support JaVale,” Paul said.
Bridges said he thought the players were good healthwise Game 7.
“Everybody was pretty fine to me,” he said.
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