As the head of the National Basketball Players Association, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul is at the heart of discussions with the league about when play will, if at all, resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though at this point — with more than 606,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country as of Wednesday afternoon, according to The New York Times — Paul doesn’t have much of an update for his fellow players.
“It’s really just a ‘wait-and-see’ game and hoping that the coronavirus gets contained,” Paul said, via USA Today. “What we try to do from the union perspective is try to keep guys informed as much as possible and try to prepare for what we can control.”
Paul said that the NBPA is having “ongoing conversations” with the NBA about how players will be paid during the league hiatus, and on different scenarios for resuming the season — be that playing in one location, playing without fans, jumping right to some form of the playoffs and more.
“If there is any way possible that we can play games for our fans without putting anyone’s health at risk, that is what everybody’s option is,” Paul said, via USA Today. “Not only are we ready to get back and play, the fans are ready to see sports. But everybody understands health comes first before any of that.”
Assuming that play restarts, Paul knows that teams are going to need ample time to get back into basketball shape.
The 34-year-old knows that players, especially the ones around his age, will need practice time before just jumping right back in. As for how much, though, is still up in the air — and really relies on what the NBA will look like after the pandemic is contained.
And in the end, it still may not be enough.
“There’s a significant amount of time that is going to be needed,” Paul said, via USA Today. “Because our league varies from guys who are 18 years old to guys in their late 30s, there are a variety of players in our league. Even though some guys think they can be ready at a certain date, not everybody is in that situation.
“These things will be conversations that we’ll have. I guarantee guys won’t step on that court without feeling like they’ve had the right amount of time to get prepared.”
Making the most of family time
Paul was front and center the night the NBA shut its doors.
Paul and the Thunder were all set to host the Utah Jazz when suddenly the game was called off just before tip, sparking a wild few hours following Rudy Gobert’s positive test.
Yet Paul, after being whisked off the court and back to the locker room — where they remained for quite some time while officials tested select players, coaches, staff and media members — wasn’t thinking about basketball at the time. He had something much more important on his mind.
“My first instinct was to get back to my family,” Paul said, via USA Today. “Everyone thinks about the game and what happened that night. But my first instinct was to get back to my family, to my wife and kids.”
Now, Paul is just waiting like the rest of the sports world while stuck at home with his family.
During a time where he’d usually be in the midst of a season and away from his wife and kids, who still live in the Los Angeles area, Paul is actually extremely thankful.
“This is the most we’ve all been able to be together,” Paul said, via USA Today. “That’s the case for a lot of families at home. It’s one of those things where you learn new things and learn not to take some things for granted.”
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