Golden State Warriors' guard Chris Paul, after a staggering 19-season career, took to the court as a substitute for the first time during the Warriors' recent 106-95 triumph over the Houston Rockets.
A Historic Streak Comes to an End
Paul's transition from the starting lineup to the bench marks the end of a phenomenal streak.
Over his illustrious career, he has been the starter for 1,365 games, encompassing both playoff and regular-season matches. This record, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, is the most consecutive starts to kick off a career since the 1970-71 season, before a player transitioned to a reserve role.
Despite this significant change, Paul remains focused on the bigger picture. "It's whatever I've got to do to help our team win," he voiced. His sentiments reflect the inevitable shifts that come with a long-standing career, highlighting his adaptability and unwavering dedication to the sport and his team.
"If you get a chance to play long enough in your career, there's things that's going to change, there's things that's going to be different and I'm here."
Making an Impact Off the Bench
Despite not scoring in the initial moments of his bench debut, Paul made his presence known.
Within the first quarter, after joining with just under 7 minutes left, he helped the team secure an eight-point advantage, owing mainly to his three key assists. Overall, in the 27 minutes he played, Paul was at a notable plus-22, wrapping up with eight points, seven assists, five rebounds, and a steal.
A team insider divulged to ESPN last week that Paul, regardless of his official status as a starter or substitute, is slated to play a majority of his time alongside the second unit. Reflecting on this new role, Paul stated, "It was definitely different.
But at the end of the day it's basketball." Golden State's coach, Steve Kerr, was quick to applaud Paul's commitment and team-first approach. "It's massive the way Chris has embraced everything," Kerr remarked. Emphasizing the importance of a veteran player's adaptability, he added, "When a vet, great player, All-Star shows that kind of sacrifice, it just sets the tone for the whole team."