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Chris Paul to Produce HBO Documentary on Sports Shutdown amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2020

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul (3) during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul will serve as an executive producer and recount his firsthand experiences in an HBO Sports documentary about how the COVID-19 pandemic put the sports world on hold.

The documentary, titled The Day Sports Stood Still, "will chronicle the abrupt stoppage, athletes' prominent role in the cultural reckoning on racial injustices that escalated during the pandemic and the complex return to competition in the summer and fall." 

Paul will have some unique insights to provide.

The 10-time All-Star was on the court as the NBA abruptly postponed a game between the Thunder and Utah Jazz on March 11 with the players already on the court. 

It came out later that Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the coronavirus, which led league officials to suspend the season.

In Monday's press release, Paul said he was in the Thunder locker room on March 11 when he received a call from Brian Grazer, who also has a producing credit on the documentary. They started brainstorming what became The Day Sports Stood Still.

Beyond what happened on the court this past spring, Paul had an instrumental role behind the scenes through his role as NBPA president as the NBA finalized its plans to resume the season at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality led some to wonder whether it was an appropriate time to bring basketball back. The NBA said in June it was working with Paul and others toward "ongoing discussions between the NBA and the Players Association to address the game's role in facilitating solutions to the persistent inequities plaguing the Black community."

Even as the playoffs were underway, it looked like the NBA's Disney bubble was in serious jeopardy. The Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their scheduled game against the Orlando Magic as a form of protest, and teams from both the NBA and other leagues followed their lead.

As NBA players were weighing their next steps, ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported Paul and LeBron James were part of a group that sought the advice of former President Barack Obama: "Obama was in favor of returning to play once the players seized the moment to work with the league's owners to identify and implement actionable items to effect positive change, sources told ESPN."

Eventually, the players and the league agreed on a number of commitments to social justice initiatives, including requiring all arenas owned by teams to be used as voting locations for the 2020 election and establishing a social justice commission. 

        

Note: HBO Sports and Bleacher Report are both owned by WarnerMedia

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