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Chris Paul: Thunder guard at center of discussions to resume basketball

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Paul’s leadership has been valuable during an uncertain time

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The NBA league office has started the process of bringing the NBA back from hiatus. The sport went on hold due to fears about COVID-19. Basketball teams travel around a lot and are high-risk carriers of the virus. A player will come into contact with a hundred people in a day and would be able to spread infection quickly.

The return of the sport has been challenging, but Adam Silver has done well in managing his responsibilities. Silver has been able to work effectively with owners, players, and television companies, which is no small feat. It is a testament to Silver’s persuasiveness; each party has been willing to go ahead with basketball despite having wildly different interests.

Silver has not been able to achieve this solution alone. Chris Paul and Michele Roberts, the representatives of the National Basketball Players’ Association, have been instrumental in this process.

The NBPA has acted as a sounding board for Silver; Paul and Roberts enjoy a warm relationship with the Commissioner and regularly critique his ideas. It is a two-way street, Paul and Roberts have been quick to suggest ideas about how the league can be resumed safely and with competitive integrity.

Paul’s role has been impressive, and it is a testament to the leadership that Chris has shown over his entire career. Ever since Paul came into the league, he has been willing to speak out on issues and talk to the league office.

The start of his relationship with Adam Silver came at the beginning of his career. In 2006, Paul contacted the deputy commissioner about the synthetic leather ball that had been introduced. Paul did not like the ball and wanted to make his complaints known to the league office.

Chris Paul’s interest in league matters led him to be elected president of the NBPA in 2013. At the time, Paul’s election was ground-breaking. It was the first in a long time that an elite player had been elected to the position. Elite players did not usually concern themselves with union business; the rank and file often held the positions of responsibility.

Paul’s election signaled a distinct shift in the NBPA’s aims, the upper class of NBA stars would be better represented. It did create conflict among the union; not everybody wanted the huge caps spike to occur in 2016. Players with less financial security were concerned about vast spending freezes in subsequent summers.

Despite a few blips, Paul’s leadership has mostly been positive. Paul presided over a new CBA without any labor stoppages. The Elam Ending was implemented into the All-Star Game at his request. It has been an essential term in office for Paul, and the crux of success stems from his relationship with Adam Silver.

Paul and Silver trust each other on league matters; Silver knows that Paul is an intelligent individual who is willing to discuss the finer points of league proposals in detail. Paul understands that Silver is willing to listen to suggestions of players and is amenable to the ideas of player power.

Paul’s previous leadership pales in comparison to the role which he has played during the league stoppage due to the coronavirus. Paul has been outstanding in ensuring that every player has a say in the resumption of the league; Paul has created a players’ committee that can consult with the league office.

The committee is not compromised of the league’s elite; it is comprised of a spectrum of players. Paul and Russell Westbrook are the two most notable names who sit on the committee, but a player like Dwight Powell has been included to represent the views of the league’s rank and file.

It has been a tireless effort from Chris as he represents the NBPA in discussions with the league about players’ salaries and the luxury tax.

Paul’s voice carries weight with the league office, but he does not monopolize this responsibility. Paul plays the point guard role in the boardroom as well. Chris makes a point of bringing his colleagues into the conversation and allowing them to speak their minds.

It is one of the reasons why Paul has generated buy-in amongst the league’s elite. In previous years, the upper echelon was reluctant to get involved with league matters. It is a different story now. Paul can pick up the phone and have Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook on a conference call willing to discuss issues that affect the NBPA.

Chris Paul is a leader on and off the court. Paul is a maestro on the hardwood, and his ability has led the Thunder to huge overachievement. However, his impact is even more substantial off the court. Paul has been vital in steering the league through uncertain times. Chris has been everything that a President should be during this time of crisis. He deserves a lot of credit.