Foster’s eviction of Paul is the most recent development in their ongoing conflict.
Chris Paul and Scott Foster are two of the most entwined athletes and referees in sports history, and on Wednesday night, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Golden State Warriors 123-115 to add another chapter to their long saga. Foster sent Paul to the showers with two rapid technical fouls with only a few seconds left in the first half, right before halftime.
Foster provided a succinct and direct explanation in the pool report following the game.
Question: Why was Chris Paul assessed the first technical foul?
Foster: For unsportsmanlike conduct.
Question: How did Chris Paul escalate the situation to be given a second technical foul, leading to his ejection from the game?
Foster: He continued to complain and received a second unsportsmanlike technical foul.
Paul was called for a foul on his former teammate Kevin Durant at the top of the key, which sparked the altercation. Paul walked straight to Foster and began talking while Durant moved to the queue. After that, the two got into a long, apparently amicable conversation that soon grew animated.
Foster ultimately lost patience and called Paul for a technical foul just before Durant attempted his second free throw. Paul became even more furious by that and proceeded to bark at Foster. Consequently, he was promptly given a second technical and was automatically ejected. At that time, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr intervened and received a technical foul of his own.
Here’s a look at the full sequence:
It's the Scott Foster show, starring Scott Foster pic.twitter.com/UOJR20QMLG
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) November 23, 2023
There was another viewpoint that seemed to capture Paul calling Foster a “b—-.”
“Postgame, Paul stated that it’s personal. “A personal situation occurred a few years ago. Everyone knows, even the league, and there has been a meeting and such. Well, there’s a situation with my son. I don’t mind if a referee speaks or says anything; just avoid using technology to make your point. I need to be more diligent in ensuring that I remain on the court for my teammates. That being said, that’s it.
Yes. Both they and he are aware of what it is. I met with him, my father, Doc Rivers, Bob Delaney, and other people. During my time with the Clippers. Man, it was the whole thing. It has existed for some time. I don’t say nothing to avoid paying a fine. Right now, it is what it is.”
Paul had been ejected seven times in his career, but this was, oddly enough, Foster’s first. But as Paul hinted at in his remarks, it was obviously not the first time the two had gotten into it.
“He just never fails,” Paul remarked following a 2018 regular season game in which Foster gave him a technical. You can [communicate] with some of them. All you need to do is determine who you can and cannot work with. Tonight I received a tech. There I am, saying, ‘That’s Scott, that’s Scott,’ with [officiator Courtney Kirkland], and I have a tech. That place has history. The man is him. They pay to see that person.”
Foster was on the call when Paul and the Phoenix Suns lost Game 3 of the 2021 Finals, and he bemoaned, “If I was a betting man— 11 games in a row.” That was a reference to the fact that until the Suns defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of their first-round series last season, Foster’s losing skid in playoff games finally reached 13 games.
Paul’s record in postseason games overseen by Foster is 2-17 overall.