Chris Paul(notes) stood on the Tulane University track Thursday morning underneath a rainbow arch made of teal and yellow balloons in the New Orleans Hornets’ colors. Paul was there to host a youth fitness event, and Dennis Rogers, the Hornets’ director of basketball communication, was helping coordinate. Hugo, the Hornets’ mascot, entertained the children while Randy Greenup, the Hornets’ security guard and a close friend of Paul’s, also worked the event.
And by the end of the day, Paul wouldn’t be allowed to speak with any of them.
With the NBA deciding to implement a lockout after failing to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association, teams are now forbidden from having any contact with players. That’s why Paul planned to spend Thursday afternoon playing golf with Greenup. Paul has planned for Greenup to be in his wedding in September, but if the lockout hasn’t been lifted, Greenup will need special permission from the league to even attend.
“The past three or four days we’ve been together all day every day because starting tomorrow I can’t talk to one of my closest friends,” Paul said.
Life promises to be awkward for Paul and most other players during the NBA’s first work stoppage since the 1998-99 lockout. The league gave team officials a long list of people connected to players that they can’t communicate with, including agents, family members, personal staff, workout guys and shoe representatives. Several sources said the league office is intent on cracking down on any violations, proposing hefty fines to teams and individuals and possibly even firings. If team officials have a chance encounter with players, they are ordered to record details of the meeting and report it.