Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and NBPA President Chris Paul says people will continue to hear NBA players' voices amid the ongoing social justice movement as the league gears up for its restart July 30.
"You're going to continue to hear us," Paul told reporters Friday. "This isn't a 'shut up and dribble' situation."
Fox News host Laura Ingraham said in 2018 that LeBron James should "shut up and dribble" after he offered his feelings on President Donald Trump in an interview with ESPN's Cari Champion.
NBA players have used their platform to speak on systemic racism, police brutality and social injustice in recent weeks.
Players have been divided on whether the restart, set to take place after a four-month league suspension because of the COVID-19 pandemic, would help or hinder their efforts and momentum toward creating positive change.
Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Lou Williams said he was 50-50 on returning to play, saying games could be a distraction as people fight for social justice. In a virtual video chat hosted by CoStar (h/t Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times), Williams said:
"I think for us, the only benefit of us not playing is to keep the focus on the fight. And with that being said, this is in six weeks, so we don't know what it looks like in six weeks. In six weeks the world may need some healing, they may need us to be on the floor. But if more Black kids or more Black adults or any adults that's dealing with police brutality are getting killed and we're still outraged, I don't know if it's in our best interests to suit up because it looks like we don't care. You know what I mean? It's just a fine balance we're trying to create."
However, some players believe finishing the season will be beneficial.
Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers said the money players earn could be donated to social justice causes.
"Us coming back would put money in all of our [NBA players'] pockets," Rivers said on Instagram (h/t ESPN's Tim MacMahon). "With this money, you could help out even more people and continue to give more importantly your time and energy towards the BLM movement. Which I'm 100 percent on board with. Because change needs to happen, and injustice has been going on too long."
Brooklyn Nets guard Garrett Temple provided a similar take to ESPN's Malika Andrews.
"The difference in the economic gap between white America and Black America is astronomical," Temple said. "I can't in good conscience tell my brethren to throw away millions of dollars in order to create change that I don't see the direct impact of—if there was a direct impact of laws changing, that would be a different story."
As of now, 22 of the 30 NBA teams are set to head to Orlando, Florida, in early July for practices and scrimmages ahead of an eight-game schedule to close the regular season. The first game is set to tip off July 30 with Game 7 of the NBA Finals (if necessary) slated for Oct. 13.