If Chris Paul thought he only had to worry about facing his former team Wednesday night, he was wrong. In addition to the Phoenix Suns, the veteran guard also went toe-to-toe with his biggest rival: NBA referee Scott Foster.
It’s the latest episode in the saga between Paul and Foster, and leads many to wonder when—or even if—the madness will end.
What Should the NBA Do About Scott Foster and Chris Paul?
Paul’s first public criticism of Foster came during the 2018 playoffs when he was with the Houston Rockets, telling reporters, “I got a tech tonight. Scott Foster at his finest.” The second incident came during Paul’s tenure with the OKC Thunder, referring to a costly delay of game call by Foster in 2020:
I asked Chris Paul about the officiating – specifically that delay of game call. He named Scott Foster as says he knows he’ll get fined.
A passionate response that includes “that shit don’t make no sense…we could have won the game” pic.twitter.com/w2MpKr3Uyr
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) September 3, 2020
The 2021 playoffs only added fuel to the fire, as a loss to the Lakers in game 3 of the first round marked Paul’s 11th postseason loss officiated by Foster. As of now, Paul holds a 3-17 postseason record with Foster on the sidelines.
Paul’s comments over last night’s ejection confirmed what everyone else knew: it’s personal between him and Foster. The veteran guard briefly explained why him and Foster have clashed over the years:
CP3 says “it’s personal” with Scott Foster and it involves Chris Paul’s son.
CP3 also reveals he had a private meeting with his dad, Scott, Doc Rivers, and Bob Delaney about it during his tenure with the Clippers. pic.twitter.com/acNy4h4Muv
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) November 23, 2023
What the NBA Should Do About Scott Foster vs. Chris Paul
It’s clear that the league is aware of Paul’s frustrations with Scott Foster. So, why do they keep allowing him to officiate CP3’s games, and what actions can they take moving forward?
Adam Silver should formally investigate the situation surrounding Paul and Foster to stop letting personal bias infiltrate the professionalism of the game. It’s issues like this that contribute to the negative perception of the league’s referees.
This young season has already seen some questionable actions by NBA refs. The Lakers had protested missed calls against LeBron James, and Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins used his postgame presser to rant about officiating. Players, coaches and fans not only have to worry about rough calls, but also the referees behind them.
While the situation between Paul and Foster continues to unfold, the NBA must examine the key issue at hand instead of just sweeping it under the rug. An investigation into Foster’s conduct (coupled with potential punishments) is the only way that the saga can be put to bed. The Paul-Foster beef is arguably worse than retired referee Eric Lewis’s burner account, and it’s a key factor into why everyone is upset with the current state of NBA officiating.
As for Foster, this ejection is the latest example as to why he shouldn’t be officiating games that Paul plays in. Among the NBA’s requirements for a crew chief are, “High-level play calling, partnering skills, and tools for handling any game situation, including interpersonal communication.” Those traits weren’t on display Wednesday night. Whether they’ll come around in the next CP3 vs. Scott Foster card remains to be seen.