NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Paul’s doc film relives March 11
Former Thunder guard is executive producer of an HBO documentary

Then-Thunder coach Billy Donovan, Mike Muscala, and Chris Paul leave the court with the rest of the team last March 11 when a game against the Jazz was postponed due to a positive COVID test for Utah center Rudy Gobert. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Then-Thunder coach Billy Donovan, Mike Muscala, and Chris Paul leave the court with the rest of the team last March 11 when a game against the Jazz was postponed due to a positive COVID test for Utah center Rudy Gobert. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Chris Paul's nonstop on-court communication continues off the court.

"CP is always on the phone, he's amazing," said Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari, Paul's teammate at Oklahoma City last season. "The time that he spends on the phone, it's crazy."

When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver temporarily shutdown the 2019-20 season March 11 after Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 before the Jazz played the Thunder, Gallinari saw Paul go into overdrive that night in OKC.

"He was on the phone," Gallinari said. "It was not easy to understand for anybody what was going on."

Paul relives that life-changing night in the documentary, "The Day Sports Stood Still" about how COVID-19 has changed sports since March 11, 2020, set to debut March 24 on HBO. The Phoenix Suns All-Star point guard is an executive producer.

"I'm really excited about everyone getting a chance to

see it," Paul said last week. "I was in the training room talking with (Suns teammate Dario Saric) about it. It was unbelievable times. Crazy to think that was a year ago."

An Imagine Documentaries and Fuqua Films production, Academy award winner Brian Glazer produced the documentary and Emmy Award winner Antoine Fuqua directed it.

"What makes the film that more special is it's not just my story," Paul continued. "It's a ton of different athletes, fans, people that all went through these experiences."

Soon after Gobert tested positive, his All-Star teammate from the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell, received a positive test for COVID-19 also.

"Everything you go through in life, I think it either makes you or breaks you," Gobert said Sunday before the NBA All-Star game in Atlanta. "What are you going to do to handle it and grow from it? That's what life is about."

Mitchell, who is in the documentary as well as Gallinari, Minnesota Timberwolves big Karl-Anthony Towns and many more athletes from different sports, has reflected on that night, what's happened since and is thankful to be playing basketball amid the pandemic.

"It's been a wild ride," Mitchell said. "Obviously, we're still in the midst of it, but I just continue to be safe and find ways to stay safe. I think that's been the biggest thing and the biggest message throughout. I think we're finding ways to continue to do that."

Jazz coach Quin Snyder described that night as being chaotic because of the unknown and uncertainty of the situation.

"That created a lot of unease and unrest beginning with the way the game was cancelled," Snyder said Sunday. "Obviously, it was the right thing to do, but in the circumstances to be out there warming up and to find out you weren't going to play and at that moment, people having a little idea about what was going on, but not entirely."

Gallinari remembers hearing the Jazz-Thunder game might actually be played as it was called before tip-off.

"They told us maybe we're going to resume the game," Gallinari said. "So we were just trying to stay loose. Somebody was stretching, somebody went back to the weight room. We were just trying to stay loose 'cause we didn't know if we were going to play the game."

Silver sent an announcement out later that that night that the season was being postponed.

"I didn't know what to think," Suns coach Monty Williams recalled. "You just kind of stop for a second and then I turned to probably ESPN and I saw what was going on in Oklahoma City and that's when it kind of hit home that basketball wasn't going to be the same that day. I didn't know it was going to turn into what it did, but at least for that day, I was like, man, this is weird."

Once Jazz and Thunder players were told the game was off, they had to stay in their respective locker rooms, Gallinari recalls.

"We didn't know if we could take a shower or not," he said. "We couldn't move from the locker room. We didn't know. At one point, they told us, OK, you guys can take a shower and then we got to wait here until everybody gets their own temperature."

The Thunder players were able to leave one-by-one after having their temperature taken. Gallinari said he got back to his home around 10:30 or 11 p.m.

The Jazz players had to remain at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but did receive some wine, or "refreshments" as Snyder called it, from Paul.

"It's something we'll always look back on, and fondly," Snyder smiled. "I don't know if he would've given us the same refreshments had we played the game, but it just goes to show you the empathy I think that a lot of people had trying to figure out how long we were going to be in that room. Whether we needed to bring cots in to sleep. We were trying to find a hotel room, which was very difficult."

Paul has connections with Mitchell, who he calls "a brother," Jazz forward Joe Ingles and Snyder, who he got to know from being part of the league's competition committee.

"They had to stay in the locker room," Paul said. "Just calling and checking on them, making sure they were OK and knowing how we all are together in this league, I knew i lived close to the arena. So we sent some bottles of wine over."