In Wednesday night's NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns, tensions flared once again between Chris Paul of the Warriors and referee Scott Foster. The long-standing conflict reached a new peak when Paul was ejected from the game after receiving two quick technical fouls from Foster.
This incident marks Paul's seventh career ejection and adds another chapter to their troubled history. The situation escalated with 23 seconds left in the second quarter when Phoenix forward Kevin Durant drew a foul on Paul.
Disagreeing with the call, Paul expressed his frustration towards Foster, the crew chief for the night, which quickly resulted in his ejection after being assessed two technical fouls in rapid succession. Paul, who ended the game with six points and six assists, was visibly upset, stating postgame, "It's personal.
We had a situation some years ago and it's personal." Warriors coach Steve Kerr also received a technical foul for protesting Paul's ejection. While acknowledging the first technical was warranted, Kerr felt the second was unnecessary, echoing a sentiment of frustration shared by many on the team.
A History of Conflict
The dynamic between Paul and Foster isn't a recent development. It dates back to Paul's time with the LA Clippers, with whom he played from 2011 to 2017. Paul's teams, including the Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Suns, have had a notably poor record in playoff games officiated by Foster, with a 3-17 record dating back to 2008.
This history has built a narrative of animosity, further complicated by an undisclosed incident involving Paul's son during his tenure with the Clippers. The ongoing conflict between Paul and Foster has also reached the league's attention, with Paul having a meeting with the league regarding Foster in 2018 while playing for the Houston Rockets.
Paul's comments after the game indicate a resignation to the situation, yet with a hint of continued contention, "It was a whole thing. But it's still been a thing for a while... It is what it is at this point." Warriors guard Stephen Curry also weighed in, emphasizing the importance of keeping interactions between players and referees professional and within bounds.
Paul and Curry's comments reflect a broader sentiment in the league about the dynamics of player-official interactions. This incident not only highlights the personal conflicts that can arise in professional sports but also raises questions about the nature of officiating and player conduct in high-stakes games.
As the Warriors and Suns continue their season, the ongoing tension between Paul and Foster remains a subplot to watch, especially as Paul hinted at a potential future encounter, "I'll probably see [Foster] in a Game 7 sometime soon."