There’s a reason that people relocate to the Valley of the Sun as they grow older.
Arizona is a gorgeous, exciting place to live. And with it’s sunny days and warm, dry climate, it can also enhance physical health, improve psychological well-being, and lend to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
State Farm commercial superstar Chris Paul recently relocated there in the last year, and the benefits of living in the Valley seem to have rejuvenated him, and limited a COVID exposure stint to 11 days.
It also helped him last night to a 41-point performance last night against his former team – the Los Angeles Clippers – eliminating them and advancing the Phoenix Suns to their third Conference title and a very valid shot at winning their first-ever NBA Championship.
41 points. Four rebounds. Eight assists. Three steals.
And let’s not forget the abuse he took from Patrick Beverley and DeMarcus Cousins, spending time both on his back and taking shots to his back, all the while putting the Phoenix Suns on his back in the third and fourth quarters, including a personal 8-0 run late in the third, and three three-pointers in the fourth.
Ageless … and with plenty of time to rest, since the Atlanta Hawks – Milwaukee Bucks series is 2-2 and tighter than Giannis Antetokuonmpo’s knee right now.
As the playoffs began, I noted to colleagues that I’d love to see an Atlanta Hawks – Phoenix Suns NBA Finals. I have been excitedly watching the teams inch closer to my vision of Trae Young and Devin Booker trade long distance shot for teardrop runner after long distance shot and teardrop runner.
But Chris Paul. Sixteen years he’s been waiting.
Suns faithful, even longer. 28 years since they’ve had their last shot at the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
To get there, Paul reached down deep and pulled out his inner Dara Torres, George Foreman, Gordie Howe, Nolan Ryan, Satchel Paige, and even he found a little Tom Brady in his repertoire last night.
- Torres qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing at age 41, where she went on to earn three silver medals. She is a 12-time Olympic medalist, who swam competitively for more than two decades and qualified for five Olympic games, the first swimmer to do so.
- Foreman, at age 45, knocked out 27-year-old Michael Moorer to become the oldest heavyweight boxer to do such a thing. He did this after a short retirement and 20 years after losing to the late Muhammed Ali – who was an avid Phoenix Suns fan in his latter years. Like Paul, Foreman is stacking cash as a commercial spokesman, for the indoor grill that bears his name.
- Hockey fans might recall that Howe had an incredible Ironman mentality, playing in every single season game with the Hartford Whalers and helped the team make the playoffs at age 51. In 1997, Howe returned to play for a single game at age 69 with the Detroit Vipers.
- Well into his 40s, Ryan was throwing heat at well over 100 m.p.h. In 1991, at 44 years of age, Ryan pitched the last of his record seven no-hitters for the Texas Rangers. He retired at age 46, notching 324 career wins and 5,714 strikeouts, records in Major League Baseball
- Paige didn’t enter the MLB until he was 42 years as a rookie at age 42. Prior to that, he was a star of the Negro Leagues until 1948. As a 42-year-old rookie, Paige made two All-Star teams and pitched in a World Series. In 1965, Paige pitched three shut out innings playing one game for the Kansas City Athletics at age 59, making him officially the oldest baseball player ever.
- … and Brady? Well the story continues … But last year, at 43 years old, he guided an entirely new team and franchise – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – to a Super Bowl win and he nabbed the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award in the process.
Chris Paul has seen his share of injury-induced disappointment as he’s struggled and bounced back so many times in his career:
- A shoulder contusion in this year’s first round match-up with the Los Angeles Lakers.
- The well-noted hamstring injury while with the Houston Rockets in 2018’s Western Conference Finals.
- A bruised knee and torn ligaments in 2017.
- Fracturing his hand in 2016, and a previous hammy issue a year earlier when he was an L.A. Clipper.
- He separated his shoulder in 2014.
- Bruised knee cap in 2013.
- A knee injury in 2010.
- And he missed a month with a sprained ankle in his second year in New Orleans.
Y’know, I’m almost certain the underwriters at State Farm have been busier than the people shooting commercials with Paul – no wonder they have had to sub in people like James Harden, Aaron Rodgers, Sabrina Ionescu, and Paul’s brother “Cliff.”
But a shot at a championship can cure a lifetime of ills – and apparently the Arizona desert and sunshine can cure COVID in eight days.
Regardless, as you can see, Paul has been a warrior, persevering through it all to get the chance of a lifetime with at least 4-5 days of rest in the desert sun.
Rejuvenation at its best – so soak it in, Chris … or Cliff … or whoever the hell you are.
You deserve every minute of this wonderful, warm feeling of winning.
And I have a feeling the best may be yet to come.
Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA, done NBA Radio, and appeared as a guest for the last 21+ years for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show, NBARadioShow.com, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 21 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (CBA, G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta.
A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia
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