Chris Paul has endured a challenging 2020 like the rest of the world. However, the NBA veteran guard had a view unlike most at the start of the worldwide pandemic and during the summer as civil unrest broke out in American cities. The future Hall of Famer, recognizing the gravity of the moment early on, worked with filmmaker Brian Grazer and documented much of his personal experience on camera. Now, Paul is turning it into a documentary scheduled for release in early 2021.
Chris Paul at ground zero when NBA suspends first game
March 11, 2020 will go down as one of the most memorable days in sports history. It was a night of frenetic activity that started in Oklahoma City with Chris Paul and the Thunder hosting the Utah Jazz. It was there that Utah’s Rudy Gobert came back with the first positive test for the coronavirus.
In hindsight and to the NBA’s credit, the league called off the Jazz-Thunder game and did the same for the New Orleans Pelicans-Sacramento Kings scheduled later that night. What no one knew at the time, it would be the first of many dominoes to fall.
Following the NBA’s decision to suspend those games, the league officially suspended the season. And the rest of the sports world followed suit.
Chris Paul and NBA officials develop plan for play to return
While the rest of the NBA players retreated to their homes, National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and other top league officials had virtual meetings to come up with a plan moving forward.
On July 7, the NBA teams followed the new plan and began reporting to the Orlando bubble. When play resumed at the end of July, the NBA had a very different look and feel. In addition to playing in an arena without fans, there was social justice messaging featured on the players’ jerseys as well as on the court.
The move came as a result of George Floyd’s death months earlier and the demonstrations that followed in cities across the nation. The NBA would find itself right in the middle of the protest on August 26 when the Milwaukee Bucks walked out on their first-round playoff matchup with the Orlando Magic. The other playoff teams did the same.
Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook called former president Barack Obama for counsel on the situation. He advised the players to return to play only after coming up with a list of action items for the league to implement. Days later, play resumed.
Documentary details timeline of events for 2020 year in sports
Incredibly, just hours into the March pandemic saga, film producer Brian Grazer called Chris Paul, still in the OKC locker room with his teammates.
“Last March when the NBA announced they were postponing the season, Chris Paul and I spoke and he said to me ‘we have to document this.’ Antoine (Fuqua) was our next call, and days later, we started filming. We knew this was a unique story, but no one could have predicted the emotional twists and turns that came with bringing the game back,” Grazer said. “It’s been an incredible journey and a point in history that none of us will forget.”
The project, which is called “The Day Sports Stood Still,” will include in-depth interviews, most done remotely, with a wide array of athletes from the NFL to the WNBA, sharing their pandemic experiences and how it affected their lives.
The documentary is scheduled to air on HBO in early 2021.