Former NBA ref calls Chris Paul ‘one of the biggest a–holes I ever dealt with’

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It’s well known Chris Paul and NBA referee Scott Foster have had their differences for some time, but another referee has also had some unpleasant experiences with the veteran point guard. 

And Bill Spooner, who worked 32 years in the NBA before retiring, didn’t hold back on his thoughts about Paul in a recent profile on Foster, via The Athletic. 

“I’m going to tell you, and I know you are recording me, but I get asked all the time: ‘Who are some of the tough guys, some of the bad guys?’ And when I tell them that Chris Paul, in my 32 years in the league, was one of the biggest a–holes I ever dealt with, they say, ‘Not Rasheed Wallace … or da-da-da?’ Nope. Nothing like (Paul),” Spooner told The Athletic.

Bill Spooner holds basketball

Referee Bill Spooner during Game 1 of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs between the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat April 14, 2018, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.  (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Spooner added that people usually are shocked to hear Paul is difficult to deal with on the court. 

“And they are like, ‘Oh, he seems like such a nice guy.’ And I say, ‘Yeah, he’s a great image cultivator,'” Spooner said.

It’s no secret Paul and Foster haven’t had a great relationship during their time in the league. 


The Athletic pointed to a postgame moment in 2015, when Foster tapped his car horn as Paul, holding the hand of his 5-year-old son, was blocking the car’s departure from an arena. Paul was surprised at the moment, but ended up moving out of the car’s way. 

While Foster didn’t say anything to the father and son, he told The Athletic there were accusations about him the next day. 

“I got home the next day and was told there were accusations made that I did something unprofessional,” Foster explained. “The NBA did an investigation and found there was nothing found that needed to be discussed or anybody talked to. And that was the end of that.”

Chris Paul and Scott Foster talk

Chris Paul of the Golden State Warriors reacts to referee Scott Foster during the first half of a game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center Nov. 22, 2023, in Phoenix, Ariz.  (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Paul, playing for the Los Angeles Clippers at the time, had a meeting with his father, Foster, then-head coach Doc Rivers and ex-NBA ref Bob Delaney, who was transitioned to a league office role. 

Paul has mentioned the situation with his son involved and the meeting before, the latest of which came this past regular season. Foster ejected Paul, a member of the Golden State Warriors, in a Nov. 22 game against the Phoenix Suns. 

“It’s personal,” Paul said about Foster. “We had a situation some years ago, and it’s personal. The league knows, everybody knows. There’s been a meeting and all that. It’s just a situation with my son. I’m OK with a ref saying whatever. Just don’t use a tech to get your point across.”

Foster began officiating in the NBA during the 1994-95 season and has been a part of the league ever since. 

Chris Paul dribbles

Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns dribbles against the Denver Nuggets during Game 2 of the second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs May 1, 2023, at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo.  (Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

Paul, a 12-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA honoree, will turn 40 in May as he approaches his 20th season. 

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