Chris Paul was showered with boos in New Orleans over the weekend. But according to Phoenix Suns analyst Eddie Johnson, the beratement may have sounded worse than it actually was.
New Orleans basketball fans haven’t forgiven Paul for departing the city more than a decade ago. With the Suns playing the Pelicans in consecutive games over the weekend, the crowd had a grand opportunity to put their former All-Star point guard on blast.
But as the home crowd booed Paul during the first half Sunday afternoon, Johnson was so skeptical of their intensity that he concocted his own conspiracy theory on the situation.
Eddie Johnson wasn't buying all the boos for Chris Paul in NOLA pic.twitter.com/BFqFHUiWbf
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) December 12, 2022
“I think I have a little tech in me,” Johnson said on the Bally Sports Arizona broadcast. “They are booing, but they got a machine in here that kinda echoes the boos, OK? I mean, trust me, this crowd is not as loud as it seems. They’re loud. I give them their respect. But they got a machine in here that’s really working wonders, man, I’ll tell ya that right now. Cause I’m looking at people’s mouths and they’re not saying anything. But yet, there’s a lot of boos.”
It’s hard to argue Johnson’s conspiracy theory without being in attendance. There haven’t been many accusations against NBA teams for piping in fake crowd noise. Teams used the “machine” in recent years when playing with limited crowds due to COVID-19 restrictions. Maybe the Pelicans never stopped with the artificial noise even after they welcomed fans back to the arena.
NBA rules only prohibit artificial noise from being used when a player is at the free throw line. Paul (seen above in November) attempted just one free throw Sunday afternoon, which he missed as the sound of loud boos blared in the background.
[Bally Sports Arizona; photo from Kyle Ross/USA Today Sports]