In a recent episode of J.J. Redick’s podcast, guest Chris Paul got to talking about last Summer’s NBA bubble; an achievement that, in hindsight, can only be described as a success, remarkable in its unlikelihood. The league was able to reconvene for a play-in tournament to close out the regular season and then host the entirety of the playoffs to name a league Champion. It was a three month stretch that saw no players or team personnel contract the virus. What began as an idea faced with mountains of skepticism ended better than anyone could have hoped to predict.
Chris Paul wasn’t just a player in the bubble, though. He’s also the president of the NBA Player’s Association, the NBPA, and had a fairly significant say in how play would be allowed to resume.
During the podcast, Paul mentions Dwight Powell, the Mavericks’ player representative, as a frequent contributor during the planning stages of the bubble and brought him up by name, along with Kyle Lowry, as someone he would call or ask to join Zoom meetings to get their perspective.
“I remember seeing the renderings of, like, what the court would look like. Like, this is where the guys will sit there’ll be a video board here.” Paul said. “ And I remember Dwight Powell was actually the one who came up with putting those extra chairs over there, because we had assigned seats — we needed other seats where guys could talk about game plan.”
There’s no telling what kind of conversations the NBPA and League officials were having behind the scenes in the run up to the bubble, but at the very least, we know that Dwight Powell had a hand in sectioning off an area where coaches and player could huddle up during games. Something that certainly would put him in the good graces of coach Carlisle. What would Carlisle be without a place to bring players over to tell them everything they did wrong?
For his part, Powell remained very active as part of the league pushed to bring attention to social justice and policing during a two-day stretch of the bubble following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Milwaukee that saw teams boycotting games in response.
“It was crucial that we came out with tangible, actionable items to move forward, but we must return to play to continue to hammer home those messages on a daily, nightly basis with all the players that we have and all the voices that we have,” Powell said. “But we did need to take a moment and remind the people that they should also stop and think and realize what’s going on in this country and find ways to help bring change because without everyone on board, we’re going to see this cycle continue to repeat itself.”
There are certain players that seem uniquely equipped to function of NBPA representatives. Chris Paul, not at all a stranger to using his knowledge of obscure rules to gain an advantage on the court, being the one to lead that group tracks completely. But players like Powell and former Maverick turned Sacramento King player rep Harrison Barnes, have always exuded similar skill for basketball bureaucracy.
It’s nice to see Powell taking an active role in the functioning of the league, particularly during this time of unprecedented change. Maybe in a few years, we’ll be talking about NBPA President Dwight Powell.
Here’s the whole podcast, if you’re interested as well as the YouTube