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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Chris Paul found out about the Suns’ trade from his son

Chris Paul, a 12-time NBA All-Star, in Manhattan, June 19, 2023. Paul was on a promotional tour for a book he wrote about his grandfather and his NBA career.

By Sopan Deb

Chris Paul was on a plane to New York on Sunday, to promote his new book, when he heard the news in a text from his 14-year-old son, Chris II: He had been traded.

Paul, a 12-time All-Star, is one of the most accomplished point guards in NBA history. He had recently finished his third season with the Phoenix Suns, a run that included a trip to the NBA Finals in 2021. There seemed to be greener pastures ahead after the Suns acquired Kevin Durant in February.

But the Suns preliminarily agreed on Sunday to a trade with the Washington Wizards for guard Bradley Beal, a three-time All-Star who will turn 30 next week. Paul, 38, was included in the deal. At the moment, it is unclear where Paul will play next season.

In an interview with The New York Times, Paul repeatedly said that Mat Ishbia, who recently acquired the team, and Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Fame point guard who is close with Ishbia, “wanted to go in a different direction.” In February, Ishbia told reporters that Thomas did not have a role with the team. Representatives for the Suns and Thomas did not respond to a request for comment.

Paul talked with the Times as part of a promotional tour for his book, “Sixty-One: Life Lessons From Papa, On and Off the Court.” The book, which was due out Tuesday, is a tribute to his grandfather Nathaniel Jones. Jones was murdered in 2002, a day after Paul signed a letter of intent to attend Wake Forest University.

Paul describes Jones as a seminal figure in his life and one of his closest confidants. Jones operated what is thought to be the first Black-owned service station in the Winston-Salem area in North Carolina.

Paul co-wrote the book during the height of the pandemic with ESPN host Michael Wilbon, weaving in tales of his grandfather and his own journey — including his experiences as a Black athlete in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

The interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, took place Monday at the New York offices of the public relations firm Rubenstein. In it, Paul discussed the trade from Phoenix, his grandfather and what his plans are after his NBA career is over.

Q: You’re on the plane last night. The team that you helped get to within two games of a championship said that it intended to trade you, and your feeling is what?

A: It’s just — it’s tough. Seriously, it is part of the business, and what you realize is that no one owes you anything. No matter how you are with them or what you do, you realize that in this business, nobody owes you anything, as it should be.

But when it comes through and my son texts me, I realize that, you know, Mat and Isiah, I guess, just wanted to go in a different direction.

Q: So you found out because your son texted you on the plane? It wasn’t your agent texting you, or Mat Ishbia. What is running through your head when you get the text?

A: I showed my phone to my wife. Because, I mean, I had talked to James Jones yesterday or whatnot. [Jones is the Suns’ president of basketball operations and general manager.]

Q: And did James Jones give an indication that this was on the table? How surprised were you by that text from your son?

A: [Paul paused.]

I was surprised.

Q: I can see it in your face that you’re trying not to talk too much trash right now.

A: No, because, I mean, like I say, it is what it is. But like I said, Mat and Isiah must have wanted to go different.

Q: In your ideal scenario, what happens next?

A: I don’t know. I really haven’t had enough time to process it yet. Like seriously, because these things that happen affect more than just me.

Q: You said recently in another interview that you wanted to remain in Phoenix. What are your feelings toward the organization at the moment?

A: Like I said, Mat and Isiah, they want to go in a different direction. But my time there has been amazing. You know what I mean? It’s been great. And so, get back to work.

Q: You could have written a book about anything. You chose to write about your grandfather. Why was that?

A: That was a huge point in my life. And being 38 years old now, I would have never imagined I would have had the opportunity to do the things that I’ve done. I was reflecting and realized how many things are the way they are because of my relationship with my grandfather.

Q: How do you reflect differently on his death now at 38 than you did when you were a teenager?

A: In doing this book, there were conversations that I hadn’t thought about or talked about in 20 years.

Q: How painful was it for you and your family to revisit the murder?

A: I actually got a few videos in my phone of some recordings. [Paul was referring to recording the audiobook.] And when I was doing it, there were a few times where I broke down and I couldn’t get through it.

Q: One of the interesting stories I read in the book was after George Floyd’s death you talk about getting pulled over in Los Angeles. Can you describe the unease you felt?

A: I was on the 405, it was during construction, so it was crazy. When I pulled over, I pulled over to the left. I think I was supposed to pull over to the right, but I think it was the nervousness and anxiety. And so I pulled it over. I don’t care what anybody says — especially at the height of everything going on, at the time, I was just a little nervous.

Q: You’re a wealthy, famous, successful athlete, and you’re getting pulled over by cops, and you’re worried. What does that tell you about our country right now?

A: It tells you a lot.

When I’m playing in a game and I’m in an arena, all those fans are in there screaming. As soon as I leave the game, I don’t leave the game in my uniform. I could leave the game in a hoodie with a hat on. So I’m regular. I’m just like anybody else. That’s another thing, too. All people don’t know who athletes are and all this stuff. I’m not thinking for one minute that I should get some type of pass because I’m an athlete.

Q: How much thought have you given to how many years you have left in the NBA?

A: I ask a lot of questions of friends, of people that have retired, people that are in other businesses that are working. And one of the biggest things that I’ve heard just years ago is that as soon as you start thinking about when it’s over, then it’s over.

Q: And you’re not feeling that.

A: At all.

Q: What does post-playing-career Chris Paul look like?

A: I’d love to be a governor someday.

Q: A team owner.

A: Exactly. Because I just know every nuance of the league from all the years as president of the union. And I have relationships where I’ve been able to learn from these guys.

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