Chris Paul Discusses Donald Sterling, NBA Restart

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 15, 2020

Oklahoma City Thunder's Chris Paul plays against the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Chris Paul is keeping busy during the NBA's shutdown, serving as an executive producer on a documentary about former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. 

The documentary, titled Blackballed, will premiere Monday on Quibi and serves as an examination of race in America through the events that led to Sterling being forced to sell the Clippers in 2014. 

Appearing on ESPN's The Jump, Paul explained why the team came close to boycotting its playoff game against the Golden State Warriors after audio of Sterling making racist comments became public. 

"It was bigger than that...bigger than than basketball," he said. "It was more about life, race relations and how people respond."

Paul was also asked about the possibility of the NBA resuming this season at some point. 

"We want to play bad," the Oklahoma City Thunder star said. "A lot of hard decisions, but with the team around us, will get to where we want to. ... We miss the game."

Like the rest of the world, Paul has been consumed by The Last Dance even though he acknowledged it hasn't altered his perception of Michael Jordan: "It's nothing like the doc. We knew MJ was MJ. This right here, got to respect it

In April 2014, Deadspin obtained audio recorded by Sterling's then-girlfriend, V. Stiviano, in which he told her not to "bring black people" to Clippers games and made other racist remarks. 

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told Arash Markazi, then a reporter for ESPN, that the team held a meeting at their hotel to discuss the possibility of boycotting Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Warriors: 

"I thought we needed to talk about it because everyone else is and so we needed to talk about it and all things came up. We've heard all the stuff, the boycotts and all the stuff and all those things are things you could do but we choose to play and we're going to play tomorrow. ... It was brought up because I'm sure 20,000 people have suggested it but honestly I'm completely against that and they were, too."

Rather than boycott the game, Clippers players staged a silent protest by wearing their warm-up shirts inside out and wore black socks and/or armbands. 

Sterling received a lifetime ban from the NBA, the maximum allowable fine of $2.5 million and ultimately sold the franchise to Steve Ballmer less than one month after the recordings were made public. 

Paul was in his third season with the Clippers when the situation unfolded. He played three more seasons in Los Angeles before being traded to the Houston Rockets after the 2016-17 campaign. 

Now a member of the Thunder, Paul has led the team to a 40-24 record and No. 5 seed in the Western Conference when the season was suspended on March 11.