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It was obvious what Chris Paul had on his mind after the Phoenix Suns' 109-95 Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night. He hijacked the final few questions of his postgame presser and redirected them to the only thing he really wanted to talk about: the officiating, and referee Scott Foster specifically.
Paul never mentioned Foster by name, but the two have a history. Including Thursday night, Paul has lost 11 straight playoff games (over four different teams) that Foster has officiated, and he wanted everyone to know that he's been keeping count.
History between Paul and Foster
Thursday night wasn't the first time Paul has publicly called out Foster. Back in Jan. 2018, when Paul was with the Houston Rockets, Foster dinged him with a technical foul with under five minutes left in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Rockets went on to win that regular season game, but Paul was incensed and called out Foster for stealing the spotlight after the game.
"Yeah, Scott Foster at his finest. You know what I mean? He just never fails. Some of them, you can [communicate] with. You've just gotta figure out who you can and you can't. I got a tech tonight. I'm over there with [referee Courtney Kirkland] saying, 'That's Scott, that's Scott,' and I got a tech. That's history there. He the man. That's who they pay to see."
Paul and Foster clashed again in Feb. 2019 when Paul was still with the Rockets. During what would end up being a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Foster again gave Paul a late technical foul, and he sounded off after the game.
Fast forward to Sept. 2020. Paul, playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, encountered Foster again during the first round of the bubble playoffs. In Game 7 against the Rockets, Foster whistled Paul for a delay of game call, which Paul thought was unnecessary. He'd been buying time to give the Thunder a chance to challenge, and Foster wasn't having it.
Following Oklahoma City's elimination loss that night, Paul again called Foster out by name.
"It’s crazy. This has been going on in the bubble – like the replays," Paul said via NBC Sports. "They show the replays sometimes so that, obviously, it’s an advantage if you get to see the replay and then you challenge.
"So, myself, I dropped down to tie my shoe up to hopefully see if we see the replay. Scott Foster walked over to me and told me, 'Chris, you ain’t got to do that. I got them sweeping up the floor.' OK, cool. So, I start tying my shoe back up, and he still calls delay of game. That s*** don’t make no sense. But I don’t know. That’s crazy. He just – I don’t know.
"We could’ve won the game, but that situation – the league knows. Yeah. They’re going to fine me. I said his name. Yeah. We already know the history."
Paul didn't mention Foster by name on Thursday night, so there's a chance he'll avoid getting fined this time.
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