OKC Thunder: Chris Paul's voting message amplified after players' strike
Chris Paul walked off the court after Game 4 against the Rockets and shared a message he has consistently preached in the bubble.
“The win is good, but voting is real,” the Thunder point guard said to a national TNT audience. “I’m going to challenge all my NBA guys, other sports guys to try to get our entire teams registered to vote.”
Paul’s voting message was amplified as a result of the players’ strike.
Games will resume Saturday, but only after the NBA and National Basketball Players Association agreed to enact two commitments that should enhance voter turnout in November.
First, team owners and local election officials will work to convert arenas into voting locations. Second, the NBA will work with its players and network partners to produce ads during playoff games dedicated to raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.
Marc Spears of The Undefeated reported that it was said during the players’ meeting Wednesday night that only about 20% of NBA players are registered to vote.
Paul, a co-chair of When We All Vote, is hoping to change that.
“Our goal is to help close the race and age gap of those who show up to the polls, and we know that men, especially men of color, lag behind when it comes to people who actually get out there and vote,” said Stephanie Young, managing director for communications, culture and partnerships at When We All Vote. “Athletes, especially basketball players, have such a broad reach.”
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When We All Vote is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization launched by former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2018.
More than 150,000 people have registered to vote through the organization, and its mission is to change the culture around voting.
Young said Obama asked Paul to join her team. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is the only other professional athlete who serves as a co-chair.
Paul attracts a young audience of basketball fans that might otherwise be hard to reach.
“For those who look up to him and wanna be like him, to see him talk about voting and to see him talk about voting in a way that says, ‘You matter, and if you don’t use your voice someone else will,’ that’s inspiring to someone.”
NBA players refused to take the court Wednesday in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Young hopes the player movement will be a wake-up call for fans.
“I think that stopping in this moment, having people really sit in it, sit in the darkness of it, sit in the sadness of it, sit in the frustration of it and then will hopefully be moved to say enough is enough. What can I do?
“Voting is only one thing you can actually do, but it is a powerful thing you can do to help shape the narrative and help shape and create the country you want to see, whatever that looks like.”