The past week has been a tough one emotionally throughout the NBA — and across the sports world in general.
At one point, players appeared poised to simply walk away from the bubble at Walt Disney World following the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin.
"It's definitely been a very emotional past couple of days, not only for myself but everyone," Paul said Friday, via ESPN. "I've got to give a lot of credit to our players. It's been a hard time. Everyone showed in a lot of the communication that we've been having is amazing. What everyone saw in the past couple days is guys just needing to reset, to refocus, and that's what we did."
Paul: ‘We needed some time’
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back several times by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police on Sunday as he tried to get into his car. A lawyer for the Blake family said that his three children were in the car at the time of the shooting. He is now in stable condition, but is at least partially paralyzed.
The Milwaukee Bucks — whose arena sits roughly 40 miles north of Kenosha — first staged a walkout on Wednesday, and every team across the league followed. The walkouts quickly spread out into the rest of the sports world too.
"The shootings that continue to happen, it creates a lot of unrest. A whole lot of unrest," Paul said, via ESPN. "For us, to have a predominantly African American league, to see our Black brothers being shot and killed on a daily basis, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to us. Everyone expects us to go out and play. I get it. But we needed some time. All of us.
"We needed some [time] to refocus and understand that we can do that. We're human at the end of the day. A lot of times people pass a lot of judgment about what we should do or what we shouldn't do, but I give our guys a lot of credit because they've been doing a hell of a job. A hell of a job down here performing and speaking on the different social injustices going on day in and day out. While trying to be a great athlete. While trying to be a great husband. While trying to be a great father."
Paul spoke with Blake’s father
Paul said Friday that he actually spoke with Blake’s father over the phone. Blake Sr. went to college at Winston-Salem State, located in the same town where Paul grew up and went to college.
Getting to speak with him, and everyone else in the bubble the way that he did, was an experience Paul said he would never forget.
“I was blessed and fortunate enough to talk with Jacob Blake’s father … It’s emotional,” Paul said, his voice cracking. “It's emotional, especially when you're a Black man and you know that, when [Bucks guard] George Hill spoke, he talked about being a Black man and he was hurt. He was hurt. We're all hurt. We're all tired of just seeing the same thing over and over again and everybody just expects us to be OK, just because we get paid great money.
“You know, we're human. We have real feelings. And I'm glad that we got the chance to get in a room together to talk with one another and not just cross paths and say, 'Good luck in your game today.'"
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