Slowly…….the integrity of the foundation was rocked and a battle was waged by a divided front. The lines were drawn in the sand and the loss was inevitable and the strategy of divide and conquer was in full effort despite efforts to have it avoided. The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) had crumbled under the pressure of the Labor Dispute of 2011 and infighting born from distrust. Union Director Billy Hunter and Union President Derek Fisher were in the midst of their own personal war but the timing couldn’t have been more wrong. As the owners led by NBA Commissioner David Stern were shredding the details of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, Derek Fisher was waging a personal campaign to take down the man who had successfully protected the players of the NBA since 1996. Despite the fact that Hunter wasn’t perfect and Fisher had legit beef, the timing again was oh so wrong and the owners smelled blood which resulted in the players relenting on a deal that was considering one of the worst in modern history of NBA Labor Agreements. The conflict left the owners richer, the players poorer, Hunter ousted, and Fisher continuing his battle with Hunter via the justice system. It was as if a nuclear winter had engulfed the NBPA…….but there is hope.
Christopher Emmanuel Paul, considered by many as the greatest floor general in the NBA today, was recently elected to replace Derek Fisher as the President of the NBPA. The election of Paul was truly a shocker as veteran Roger Mason Jr. was considered unchallenged for the prestigious position. Mason Jr. would have represented the old guard, another journey who’s biggest claim to fame was the Presidency, another role player who wouldn’t strike fear in the hearts of the owners as the voice of the players akin to Michael Curry and Derek Fisher. LeBron James flirted with the idea of running as Union President, Kobe Bryant would have been the owners worst nightmare in the role but it is Chris Paul who was born for this honor. Chris Paul has always been “that guy”, the guy whose voice stands taller than his stature, the guy who was chosen by his peers to lead them off the court as well as on the court through the nuclear winter unleashed by the battle between Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter.
Only a few days into his presidency, Paul has reportedly lined up issues that he’d like to see changed, most notably HGH testing in the NBA, maintaining the current state of the NBA’s dress code and the elimination of flopping fines. Those hot button issues and the potential of the their outcomes to swing in the favor of the NBA players would already set Paul a part from Derek Fisher who did virtually nothing in the role to advance the cause of the Union in the eyes of the owners. Fisher driving force as Union President was personal gain, Paul’s is to serve and protect based on a foundation that was instilled in being as a child from his parents and grandfather “Papa Chilly”. Paul would grow up spending summers working at his grandfathers Chevron service station rotating tires, changing air filters, and operating the register and even while in school, Paul demonstrated great leadership ability by being voted student class president during his high school years multiple times.
Chris Paul is without question the embodiment of what the NBPA needs as a leader, a franchise player who’s prepared to go to battle and look out for his brethren. With no secret agendas, Paul will set forth the motion of a united front, one that the NBPA hasn’t seen since the NBA lockout of 1998/99. Is he thy bothers keeper?
“I think I have a lot of experience, being around and knowing what’s going on,” Paul said in the presser following his ascension to President. “Moving forward is not about me or any one person. It’s about the players as a whole. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we have a great executive committee, a great group of guys who are ready to move forward.”
The notice has been served…….