Is it beginning of the end for Chris Paul, Sidney Crosby?

Is it beginning of the end for Chris Paul, Sidney Crosby?

Title windows often open and close quickly in professional sports. Father Time remains undefeated, and there are no guarantees of sustained success in a world where free-agent departures and significant injuries are so prevalent.

Amid a cluster of thrilling and not-so-thrilling Game 7s in the NBA and the NHL over the weekend, we saw one star-studded team — the NHL’s Penguins — that finally could see a prolonged run of championships and playoff berths coming to an end with a fourth consecutive first-round (or earlier) exit cemented with an OT loss to the Rangers. We also saw a top-tier NBA squad that experienced a meteoric rise over the past couple of seasons — the Suns — fully look as if it already has missed its best chance to capture the elusive first title in franchise history.

The Suns’ acquisition of ring-chasing point guard Chris Paul felt like a perfect marriage upon his arrival last season, and he helped lead their improvement from a 34-39 record in the COVID bubble 2019-20 season to a 51-21 mark and an eye-popping run to the NBA Finals.

Adding Paul to a group featuring rising star guard Devin Booker and center Deandre Ayton — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft — felt like a final-piece move for the Suns and the best chance for Paul to finally cop the first title of a 17-year Hall of Fame career that has featured 12 All-Star appearances.

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