From Oklahoma City to Phoenix, an award-winning gospel song has propelled CP3 through every challenge.
As the Phoenix Suns clinched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in a decade, a familiar phrase penned on Chris Paul’s sneakers said it all:
“Can’t Give Up Now…”
Now in his 16th season, Paul’s first year in Phoenix saw him lead a resurgent Suns team to one of the biggest franchise turnarounds in recent memory. Taking the constant lottery-bound team from a decade-long playoff drought to a deep postseason run earned him a fifth-place finish in MVP voting and a spot on the All-NBA Second Team.
All along, the phrase fueled him as he looked to re-establish his standing as one of the league’s greatest leaders after short stints in both Houston and Oklahoma City in this closing chapter of his Hall of Fame career.
“I listen to gospel music all the time. All day, every day,” Paul explained last season. “Mary Mary has a song that says, ‘I just can’t give up now.’ I listen to it all the time.”
After a three-year hiatus from the NBA All-Star Game, CP3 was named an All-Star in March for the second year in a row. And for each of these resurgent seasons, he’s been writing the song title on the midsole of his signature Jordan CP3.12 and CP3.13 sneakers before every single game.
“Can’t Give Up Now” is the fifth track on Mary Mary’s 2000 Grammy-winning platinum album Thankful. In the opening verse, the sister gospel/R&B duo of Erica Atkins-Campbell and Trecina Atkins-Campbell sets a tone of inspiration that carries through the song:
“There will be mountains
That I will have to climb
And there will be battles
That I will have to fight
But victory or defeat
It’s up to me to decide
But how can I expect to win
If I never try.”
“When I write ‘Can’t give up now’ on my shoes, that’s literally from that song,” he added.
After sitting out the opening two games of the Suns-Clippers series due to the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Paul is now cleared to play in just the second conference final of his career.
Back in the lineup for Thursday’s Game 3 with his Suns holding a promising 2-0 series lead, Paul plans to keep the energy going as he looks to make the first NBA Finals appearance of his career.
“I think about that,” the future Hall of Famer said. “People say, ‘You’re 33, 34, 35, 36 – you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ That’s just a little reminder for me. That’s why that’s on my shoes.”
There have been mountains and there have been battles. But with Mary Mary’s mantra held close, CP3 suddenly finds a first-ever trip to the NBA Finals suddenly within reach.