OKC Thunder captain Chris Paul remains busy as NBPA president championing ways to keep social justice top of mind in Orlando
Chris Paul continues to balance two hats as the leader of the OKC Thunder and National Basketball Players Association President. Like many of us, the Thunder players spent a good portion of the past few months at home looking to fill our days but for Paul, he’s been busier than ever.
That the players have someone of Paul’s ilk to represent them is a massive bonus. His relationship with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Michelle Roberts and countless numbers of his peers has worked to the player’s advantage.
Throughout the hiatus, Paul has been the conduit between the players and the league. When plans to restart the season began Paul was adamant teams would need at least a month to be playoff ready.
Chris Paul focus on social justice message in Orlando
This past weekend fans learned the stakeholders are actively discussing the ways the league can keep social reform top of mind within the bubble.
One of the proposed additions would be adding messages to the backs of players’ jerseys. The messages could be a victim’s name like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor for example. Or it could be a specific message such as “I can’t breathe” or “Say his/her name”. Paul noted the messages could be social justice, social cause or charitable messages
In the media conference call on Friday, Paul drove home how important the player’s view using the bubble and their platforms in Orlando. ESPN writer Tim Bontemps provided a quote from Paul specifically focusing on this:
“We also understand how powerful our voice is, and so even if we’re back to playing, we understand that our voice can still be heard, our message can still be screamed loud and clear on an unbelievable platform,” Paul said. “So just know that you’re going to continue to hear us. Just know that. It’s never a ‘shut-up-and-dribble’ situation. You’re going to continue to hear us and see us.”
Also this weekend, Paul spoke to Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated further emphasizing the importance of the social justice message in the Disney bubble.
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Spears told the Jump, Paul shared with him some ways the players are intent on maintaining the message. For example, CP3 told Spears he would like every post-game interview to open with time spent informing the audience about the message on the back of his shirt. Media members will likely be directed to expect that for all post-game media sessions.
Another thing fans can expect is warm-up shirts with messages and on court messaging. To that end, Zach Lowe tweeted the NBA and NBPA are planning on painting “BlackLives Matter” on the hardwood. Lowe suggested the message would appear near center court as well as on both sidelines. some of the ways Paul shared
If you caught the ESPY’s the show featured numerous PSAs (public service announcement) and it’s likely the NBA will also follow this pattern. Expect PSAs between quarters, pre and post games and throughout shows providing lead up and post-game reports.