Chris Paul May Be One of the Most Influential Individuals in Sports Right Now

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NBAPA Vice President Kyrie Irving held a zoom call Friday night with nearly 100 NBA players who discussed issues and concerns, including "is it right to play during a time of turmoil," and what would be the restrictions inside the NBA's proposed bubble in Orlando, Florida. Thunder Guard and NBAPA President Chris Paul was also present for the call, and has been a prominent voice as the league navigates returning to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Thunder reporter Erik Gee joins Madelyn Burke to discuss the players’ current concerns, what’s at stake, and the role Chris Paul plays in getting back to the court.

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Chris Paul reacts during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden

Madelyn Burke: Thunder Guard and NBAPA President Chris Paul could be one of the most influential people in sports right now. NBA P.A. Vice President Kyrie Irving held a Zoom call on Friday night with nearly one hundred NBA players who discussed issues and concerns, including is it right to play during a time of turmoil and what would be the restrictions inside the NBA as proposed bubble? Now, it's Chris Paul was part of this meeting. I'm joined now by Thunder reporter Eric Gee. And Eric, first of all, with the NBA slated to resume at the end of July, where do the players currently stand?

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Erik Gee: Most of them want to come back and play, if you believe what Kyle Kuzma tweeted out, that most of these guys want to get back on the court as soon as possible. But there are a lot of valid questions to be asked, especially when you've got racial tensions what seemed to be an all time high in this country, the current Covid-19 crisis. And I think for a lot of them, there's major concerns over the restrictions that will be placed on them in the bubble as the players can go out. But if they test positive or they have two positive Covid-19 tests, they could be in quarantine for 10 days. And as we know, most players don't want to be on lockdown or excuse me, locked down. I think also when you look at Chris Paul and guys like C.J. McCollum and LeBron James, one thing that they are stressing to players is if they don't play this season as a whole, they could lose around six hundred and forty five million dollars as a group, which is a heavy price to pay for not being on the court. And I think overall, they also are all looking at what's going to happen with the current collective bargaining agreement, because if the players decide not to play, then the owners can just tear it up. So there's a lot at stake here. And even though there are big concerns, the players don't want to put themselves at a disadvantage when negotiating with the owners or the board of governors come next year.

Madelyn Burke: Absolutely. And as the union president, Chris Paul, does hold a lot of weight in this. What has been his overarching message

Erik Gee: His overarching message to the players is we want to get back to play, but we want conditions to be as safe as possible. And that's one of the reasons why you've seen things take so long for the NBA to get it right is because not only is Chris Paul been that way, but Adam Silver, Mark Cuban has been very, very outspoken about this. Everybody wants to play, but they want to do it under the right circumstances. And not only not put players in a situation where they could possibly get sick, but when you're bringing thirty five people along with each team, you don't want to get them sick as well. So this has been all very well planned out, gone over with a fine tooth comb. And now you just have a little bit of a hiccup. Ultimately, they will get back on the court just because there's too much money that's at stake here. But I think it is. But I think any concerns the players have are valid. And Chris Paul right now just has to be that calming force.

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Madelyn Burke: Absolutely. And as you mentioned, underlings, force majeure clause owners can void the current collective bargaining agreement if players choose not to play. Eric, thanks so much for the time.

Erik Gee: You're welcome, thank you very much for having me. 

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