NBA Finals 2021: Chris Paul earned his moment in the sun

PHOENIX -- The photos started popping up on Chris Paul's phone a few days ago. The "memories" that smartphones like to remind us of, hoping they'll evoke enough nostalgia or perspective for a social media post.

Before the first NBA Finals game of his 16-year career, Paul's phone reminded him that one year ago to the day, the league and its players began traveling to the NBA bubble in Florida to complete their 2019-20 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's amazing to think all the things that have taken place since then," Paul said after scoring a game-high 32 points in the Phoenix Suns' 118-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Finals. "But I'm grateful for where I am now and happy to have this opportunity."

That's about as nostalgic and reminiscent as Paul is going to allow himself to get during these Finals. He has come so far, and experienced too much, to let any of the emotions that surely must be welling up inside him right now overwhelm or distract him.

Let NBA commissioner Adam Silver be the one to remind everyone how integral Paul was to restarting the league last year.