Annenberg hosts Zoom conversation with NBA All Star Chris Paul

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National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul discussed his recent activism and newfound interest in film production Monday in a Zoom Q&A hosted by the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Led by Annenberg Dean Willow Bay and student co-moderators Toni Hall, Sam Arslanian and Reagan Griffin Jr., the conversation,with more than 300 participants, covered Paul’s role as NBPA president during the unprecedented time in the NBA bubble.

Paul, who recently finished his 15th season in the NBA, is arguably one of the best point guards in NBA history. Currently on the Oklahoma City Thunder roster, Paul is a 10-time All Star and has served as NBPA president for the last seven years. 

Paul discussed embracing his leadership role as the voice for NBA players, citing an NBPA health insurance program to give retired players health care as his proudest accomplishment as president.

“You get a lot of push back because you have 400 or something players,” Paul said. 

Paul’s role as NBPA president was  tested most in developing the plan for the NBA bubble and handling issues inside of it. Many players didn’t want to continue the NBA season after it was initially suspended March 11 due to coronavirus concerns and the possibility of the season moving attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement.

“One thing that I got a chance to do was become more educated,” Paul said. “I talked to a number of people about the different issues and how we could make sure our voices are heard.”

The NBA continued its season in late July at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Fla., inviting 22 of the 30 NBA teams to conclude the regular season and hold the playoffs. Alongside strict coronavirus protocols, the NBA used the bubble as a platform for the Black Lives Matter movement, designing courts with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and allowing players to wear phrases on the back of their jerseys including “Say Her Name,” “Power to the People” and “Sí, Se Puede.”

Going off his role in creating the NBA bubble, Paul announced Sunday night during the NBA Finals broadcast that the NBPA was able to get more than 90% of the league’s players to register to vote. Paul noted how in the last two elections, only 20% of players voted, so Paul and the NBPA made it a priority to register players.

“It was really nice [on Sunday] to announce that we got over 90% because we have such a young league too,” Paul said. “So, this would be a lot of guys in our league first time voting, and there’s a lot of international guys who can’t vote so it was a really dope feeling to announce that.”

Apart from his work in the NBA, Paul spoke briefly about his personal life and current journey in seeking a communications degree at Winston-Salem State University, a historically Black university that his father attended. He also discussed his dedication to his family, citing it as the reason he wouldn’t coach in the NBA after retiring from his playing career.

Paul also spoke about his work with the film production company he founded, Ohh Dip!! Productions. Specializing in documentaries, Paul shared his love for filmmaking and storytelling. The Zoom event showcased the trailer for one of Paul’s most recent works, “Blackballed,” a Quibi documentary detailing the events following the leak of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments that ultimately led to his selling of the team. 

“I love how family-oriented he is,” said event attendee Nicole Antounian, a junior studying journalism. “You don’t hear about professional basketball players in the league being obsessed with their families, so it was very welcoming and touching.”