- Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul spoke to Business Insider about Dove Men+Care’s partnership with the National Basketball Players Association in a new social justice initiative called “Commit to C.A.R.E. (Care About Racial Equality) Now.”
- Paul, the president of the NBPA and a ten-time NBA All-Star, also discussed the work that went into orchestrating the NBA bubble and his perspective of playing in it.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As the current president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul has overseen a pivotal moment in NBA history with the 2019-2020 season’s continuation in a bubble and its prominent focus on social justice issues.
Paul, a ten-time NBA All-Star, spoke to Business Insider in a phone interview this week about the NBPA’s partnership with Dove Men+Care in a new social justice initiative called “Commit to C.A.R.E. Now.” With “C.A.R.E.” as an acronym for “Care About Racial Equality,” the program seeks in part to build on the work initiated by players in the NBA bubble regarding public safety, voting rights, and the media and cultural representation of Black men.
The initiative’s website extends visitors a two-part “pledge” to work to combat systemic racism through personal education and advocacy, and to sign a petition demanding that the US Senate pass The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7120), which will “offer a comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives,” according to the site.
In our interview, Paul discussed the “Commit to C.A.R.E. Now” program’s aims and his efforts with the NBPA to get 95% of the league’s players registered to vote in the 2020 election, an uptick from 2016. He also reflected on the work that went into bringing the NBA bubble into existence and his perspective of playing in it as a league veteran.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How did this partnership with Dove come together?
The NBPA and Dove Men+Care wanted to partner to continue the work that we’ve all been doing. This Commit to C.A.R.E. Now program. C.A.R.E., the acronym, for Care About Racial Equality. So we want to just continue to amplify our voices, all the work that our players have been doing in the bubble. We wanted to try to keep that going.
What do you hope to accomplish specifically, or what’s an example of something that it could bring to fruition?
Man, there’s a lot of things, and Dove has been supporting all the efforts that we have. I’m sure you saw during the game a few nights ago, we announced over 90% of players were registered to vote. Now we’re at 95%, with 20 teams at a hundred percent. The voting initiative has been really huge for our players. The George Floyd bill, which a lot of guys are very passionate about in our league. There’s so many different things that have been highlighted, and we just want to continue to amplify that to try to create change.
I saw that 90%. You said it’s 95 now. It’s important work, a critical societal purpose. Anytime I hear a figure like that, though, I’m wondering, “Who’s the 10%.” Or how did that come about?
I don’t think we focus on that. We just focus on trying to get as many guys involved as possible. And for us to be at 95%, knowing what it was before. I think a lot of times people focus on why certain things happen, instead of actually getting down and doing the work. So I think it’s a huge credit to the union, for the players, to the teams, for everybody really, not just talking about it, but really being about it.
The bubble itself and the game in it has been compelling. How do you reflect on the work that went into that?
Man, it’s somewhat of a blur now, but I think the work surrounding the bubble was unbelievable. There’s so many different people that played a part in making it happen. For me, I always reflect back to why the bubble even happened, why it was even possible. Most people won’t realize that the bubble really almost didn’t happen, basketball almost didn’t happen.
But what we did was we had a group of players who realized that this stage, that this opportunity was too big to pass up. So we decided that we would play, but we wanted to keep these different social injustices on everyone’s minds, which is why we put the names such as “Justice,” “Peace.” “Am I Next?” All these different things, we put them on the back of jerseys so that while people were watching the game, they were still reminded of what we really and truly cared about.
What about the game itself, did the gameplay seem significantly different to you from NBA seasons in the past, or how did you feel in the moment?
It was different, in the regard that, you know, there wasn’t fans. I mean, you had virtual fans, and the same conditions every day. You knew what you were going to get. But it was unbelievably competitive. Once the ball’s up, you don’t think about fans or anything like that. So the game was fun. It was exciting. But we were just excited that we were even able to get an opportunity to play.
You know, you and LeBron, I feel like you guys are on an unprecedented level of excellence at the age you’re at. I was wondering, what’s been the key to longevity for you in this game?
Man, I think the key to longevity is discipline. It’s sort of just falling in love with the process. It’s discipline, it’s routine. It’s not easy, you know. And, I know ‘Bron, not speaking for him, but I mean, I’m always at the gym at 6 am. It sort of becomes part of who you are, and it’s competitive. It’s just the will to work.
This might be a quick turnaround in the off-season. How are you looking forward to this coming season and the rest of your career at this point?
I’m excited about it. We’re still not sure when we’re going to start next season. But I think the thing — and to sort of go back to your last question — I’m a parent. I have two kids. I got a son and I have a daughter. So when you talk about like the key to longevity, and the key to anything, I don’t care what your job is, it’s about discipline. And I think trying to be the best player I can be hopefully translates to being the best parent that I can be.
So not just trying to show my kids that type of work ethic, but being in the NBA, you think about the vets in our league or whatnot, it also translates to the way we speak up. You know, we speak on social injustice, and we come together and do things together. So we’re really trying to equip the next generation with the tools that they understand that when things happen, they can speak up. You know, there’s no “just be an athlete, just shut up, and you play and you shoot, and we don’t care how you feel as a person, or as a man.” So I think that’s what’s been very important. Not only for me personally, but for us as a league.