An emotional Chris Paul praised the “huge” work of his NBA colleagues and said he will never forget the meetings that followed the Bucks’ walkout this week.
The Bucks refused to take the court against the Magic in Game 5 of their first-round series to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a police officer in the team’s home state of Wisconsin.
The incident prompted the latest in a series of demonstrations against police brutality and racial inequality, with all playoff games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday subsequently postponed.
A return to action was agreed to for Saturday, but only after the 13 teams present in the Orlando bubble held lengthy meetings to discuss a route forward. Resumption plans came with commitments from the league that placed a particular emphasis upon enabling voter participation in the 2020 general election in November.
Paul, a point guard for the Thunder, had a key role, as the NBPA’s president, and told the media of his pride at the meetings while again describing his pain.
“Fifteen years in this league and I’ve never seen a thing like it,” Paul said. “Honestly. I wasn’t the oldest one in the room — I think Udonis Haslem was — but the voices that were heard, I’ll never forget it, I’ll never forget it.
“For a lot of us, you get a chance to read and see pictures of the Cleveland Summit, those who came before us, the Muhammad Alis, the Jim Browns, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, and how powerful they were. We’re not saying that we’re that, but what we’re doing in our league right now is huge.
“I think for the young guys in our league, they get a chance to see how guys are really coming together and speaking and see real change, real action. Because guys are tired. Like, I mean, tired. When I say ‘tired,’ we’re not physically tired, we’re just tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, right?
“I was blessed and fortunate enough to talk to Jacob Blake’s father — he was in my home [city] of Winston-Salem for a while — and it’s emotional, especially when you’re a Black man. You know that when [Bucks guard] George Hill spoke, he talked about being a Black man and he was hurt. He was hurt. We’re all hurt.
“We’re all tired of just seeing the same thing over and over again and everybody just expects us to be OK, just because we get paid great money. You know, we’re human. We have real feelings.
“And I’m glad that we got the chance to get in a room together to talk with one another and not just cross paths and say, ‘Good luck in your game today.'”
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