It was the offseason, but both men were in a rush, eager to put roots down on something new. At age 35, Paul knew he was running out of chances, with the scars of past star-pairing failures marring his résumé. Booker was beyond impatient, having declared he was done missing the playoffs in 2019 only to see another losing season the following year playing for his fifth head coach.
Just 12 months have passed since that meeting, but Paul and Booker seem to have packed years of chemistry-building into it. That compression is most evident in clutch situations; that delicate time where experience is so valuable and where this star couple already has turned into horologists.
Dominance in clutch situations is driving the Suns' tremendous start this season, which has crested with a 16-game win streak as they go into a major test on Tuesday against the 18-2 Golden State Warriors.
"Over the last year, we've learned a lot about each other," Booker said. "Obviously, experience is the best teacher."
When games have entered "clutch" situations -- when the score gets within five points in the game's last five minutes or overtime -- the Suns have been precocious.