NBA star Chris Paul says that collecting NBA players in the lockdown bubble in Orlando, has actually helped their activism by giving players an opportunity to “educate” themselves.
The NBA consolidated their players, coaches, and refs in a designated “bubble” at the Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the league restarted their season. The bubble not turned out to be wildly successful in stopping the spread of Covid-19. However, according to Paul, the bubble turned out to be equally effective in spreading political activism among the players.
“I think guys have done an unbelievable job speaking on different issues that they’re passionate about. The Breonna Taylor situation, right? We can’t stop saying her name,” Paul said, in an interview with TNT.
“I think a big shout out to women in the WNBA because they’re very deliberate in everything that they do.
“I actually went to the pool at our hotel last night and just saw guys talking. You know, you don’t get to do that during the regular season. It’s always in passing.”
Paul, who also serves as the president of the National Basketball Players Association, says that one of the areas where the league’s activism has proved most effective, is on the issue of voting rights.
“I was talking to Darius Bazley, one of my teammates, about voting the other day so understanding how powerful our voice is to get people to get out and vote,” Paul explained.
“These kids watch our game. They want to buy our shoes. They want to do all this different type stuff. So we have to really start to use our influence to make sure that they understand the importance of voting and how suppression of the vote is rigged.”
One of the initiatives Paul is most proud of, is an effort he launched with fellow players Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, known as the Social Change Fund.
The stated purpose of the fund is to “support critical and timely issues impacting the Black community.” Though, another focus of the group is to help athletes speak out on political issues.
“We’ve done so much individually and we felt like it was time to actually come together and do something,” Paul said. “We felt like we could be a lot more powerful if we do that.
“So our Social Change Fund is all about reaching out to others, not acting like we have all the answers.”
While the NBA’s social justice initiatives have seemingly had their desired effect. The impact that activism has brought to the league’s popularity is quite another matter. The league averaged a paltry 1.28 million viewers for their playoff seeding games, many of which were televised in prime time. Those numbers and the numbers for the league’s restart overall, are below their pre-pandemic mark.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn