OKC Thunder: How Chris Paul is leading the charge for social justice

(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder point guard and future Hall of Famer Chris Paul has shown he hasn’t lost much of a step on the court or off it in his 14th NBA season.

OKC Thunder point guard and future Hall of Famer Chris Paul has shown he hasn’t lost much of a step on the court in his 14th NBA season.

However, despite his new team’s surprising run into the playoffs, Paul has managed to make this season — and this NBA restart — about more than basketball.

After the Milwaukee Bucks put a halt to the NBA playoffs by boycotting their Aug. 26 game against the Orlando Magic, a meeting involving the league’s players revived the call for solutions to the ongoing social injustices in the U.S.

Among the reporting coming out of that meeting came one from Philadelphia 76ers beat writer Keith Pompey who said Paul, the president of the NBA Players Association, had helped all of his Thunder teammates register to vote if they hadn’t already.

It’s a cause he had mentioned in previous interviews when talking about his efforts to push for change.

After a masterful fourth-quarter performance to tie the OKC Thunder’s series with the Houston Rockets at 2-2, Paul made it a point to say Jacob Blake’s name during his postgame interview in which he talked about getting the league up to speed on voting.

“Win is good, but voting is real,” Paul said.

“I’m gonna challenge all my NBA guys…register to vote.”

The 10-time NBA All-Star is a co-chair for When We All Vote, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization meant to help increase participation in elections.

This isn’t a new tone for Paul, who has called for change in the recent killings of Black people including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and partnered with Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony to launch the Social Change Fund earlier this summer.

The fund is set up to “address socio-economic injustice issues facing Black and Brown communities by uniting with grassroots initiatives to make meaningful change.”

Paul, Wade and Anthony notably made their voices heard alongside LeBron James at the 2016 ESPY Awards when they addressed gun violence and racial tension on stage during the broadcast.

Despite some concerns over the NBA restart potentially taking away from the important social conversation, Paul is credited as one of the driving forces behind the league’s bubble and restart success before the boycott.

Paul has said he believes the players have been able to make their voices heard since coming to the bubble.

“I think guys have done an unbelievable job speaking on different issues that they’re passionate about. Paul told Chris Haynes, in a recent interview with TNT.

“The Breonna Taylor situation, right? We can’t stop saying her name.”

He’s also made a point to show his support for historically Black colleges and universities.

Fans have seen him walking into games with clothes customized with designs supporting the likes of Alabama A&M, Livingston and Howard.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

However, it’s more than just clothes.

Paul is reportedly in the process of producing a docu-series about HBCUs and their struggles to recruit college basketball players.

To be fair, he didn’t attend go to an HBCU, but he has provided support to their programs including a $25,000 donation to Winston-Salem State, according to Erik Horne of The Athletic.

In supporting the push for education and voter registration, Paul has gone above and beyond the average athlete — and the average American.

As the NBA continues its path to lead the conversation on racial injustice and inequality, one of its all-time greats is sure to remain on the frontlines.

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