PHOENIX — Chris Paul says he knows the secret for why he’s still a dominant NBA point guard at an age when most of his peers are getting into coaching or figuring out their next steps in life.
“I told the guys in the locker room I’ve got the easy job,” Paul said grinning. “I just pass it to them.”
The 35-year-old Paul continued adding to the resume of his Hall of Fame-worthy career on Sunday night, passing 10,000 assists in the Phoenix Suns’ 111-94 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 11-time All-Star hit 10,000 in spectacular fashion, throwing a perfect alley-oop pass to Deandre Ayton, who was streaking down the lane and finished with a powerful two-handed jam. Paul finished with a triple-double on Sunday, contributing 11 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
Paul is just the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 10,000-assist milestone along with John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson. At his current rate, Paul will pass Johnson this season and might catch Jackson and Nash.
“I just enjoy watching him get these achievements along the way,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It’s amazing. I remember when he was in college at Wake Forest and no one could see this on the horizon. It comes down to a lot of hard work, sacrifice, an unreal family that he comes from and a dedication to the game.”
Williams and Paul have a unique relationship, operating almost as equals instead of the usual coach-player dynamic. The two have known each other for years and Williams was Paul’s coach in New Orleans a decade ago. Now they’re reunited and Williams is proud to call Paul a friend.
“Chris is somebody I’ll ask for advice,” Williams said. “He’s somebody that I can tell the truth to and he can tell me the truth. You’d have to ask him, but I value our relationship now because we’re both older.”
Later Williams added: “When we’re done with this I’m going to be checking up on his kids when they’re getting 10,000 assists when they’re in the league. I think it’s a cool thing to have players you’re close to, but also that you can coach and push.”
The Winston-Salem native’s longevity in the league is something that Phoenix’s young star Devin Booker has watched closely. Now teammates, the 24-year-old said it’s been a privilege to get an up close look at Paul’s relentless routine of eating right and taking care of his body.
“All the nicknames he gets, he fully deserves,” Booker said. “‘The Point God,’ everything. … You see no slippage.”
Paul’s in his 16th season in the league but he’s still playing at an elite level. He made his 11th All-Star team earlier this year and is averaging about 16 points and nine assists per game.
Now he’s on a Phoenix team that has a 28-13 record and looks ready to jump into the Western Conference elite. His buddies from his draft class might be coaching these days, but Paul still enjoys his “easy job” of dishing perfect passes.
“I ain’t done,” Paul said. “I’m going to keep hoopin’.”