Suns’ Chris Paul seems lock for NBA’s 75th anniversary team


Monty Williams kept it real when expressing why Chris Paul should make the NBA’s 75 greatest players list in celebrating the league’s 75th anniversary season.

“I’m not sure how you can call a guy the best point guard in his generation and then he not make that list,” the Phoenix Suns coach said.

The NBA has announced that a “blue-ribbon panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers, and team executives” will select the 75th anniversary team.

“Ah man, it would mean a lot,” said the 36-year-old Paul, who is entering his 17th NBA season. “It would mean a lot.”

Chris Paul has his photo taken, September 27, 2021, during the Phoenix Suns Media Day at Footprint Arena, Phoenix, Arizona.

NBA writers with USA TODAY Sports and its other properties ranked Paul at No. 38 in USA TODAY Sports’ list.

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The NBA’s 75th anniversary team will be announced later this month.

“The 2021-22 season will be truly special as we celebrate 75 years of NBA basketball,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a news release in July. “We look forward to honoring the players and teams — both past and present — who have inspired generations of fans around the world.”

Fifth all-time in assists (10,275) and steals (2,332), Paul also is 25th in free-throw percentage, 87.3%. Along with the numbers, Paul has played on 13 playoff teams in his 16 NBA seasons, and led the Suns to the NBA Finals last season in his first year with the franchise.

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“Look at the winning he’s been able to do and be a part of and affect over the course of his career,” Williams said. “And the talent, the longevity. Sure, somebody looks at me and says, he’s biased. They’d be right, but I’ve also watched it from afar when I wasn’t with him and competing against him, he was a pain in the butt.”

Paul is 22 points shy of reaching 20,000 for his career. Currently 47th in the NBA all-time list in scoring (19,978 points), Paul is ahead of Hall of Famers John Stockton (19,711) six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen (18,940) and two-time NBA champion Isiah Thomas (18,822).

Stockton, Pippen and Thomas all made the NBA’s top 50 list for the league’s 50th anniversary. Paul recalls watching the halftime ceremony at the 1997 All-Star game in Cleveland when the 50 greatest players were introduced.

If the NBA follows the same format for the 2022 All-Star Game that will once again be in Cleveland on Feb. 20, Paul might be part of an event of that magnitude.

“I remember when they did the top 50,” Paul said. “I remember watching that All-Star Game and seeing the 50 greatest walk out with their jackets on and all that. So being a student of the game, yeah, it would mean a lot.”

An 11-time All-Star, Paul has made All-NBA 10 times and all-league defensive team nine times. He’s led the league in steals six times, finished first in assists four times and won rookie of the year in 2005-06 playing in New Orleans.

Averaging 18.3 points and 9.4 assists to just 2.4 turnovers in his NBA career, Paul led the league in free-throw percentage last season, 93.4%, a career-high.

Follow Suns Insider Duane Rankin on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Suns guard Chris Paul seems lock for NBA’s 75th anniversary team

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