NBPA president Chris Paul addresses critics of compact schedule, says it was a 'conversation' before the season

Chris Paul responded to criticisms of the NBA's schedule. He said that all players had "the exact same opportunity to participate in all these conversations." (0:52).PHOENIX -- The NBA Finals will not only crown the league champion, but they will also bring an end to one of the most difficult seasons in NBA history. The COVID-19 pandemic was overcome by the league's 72-game schedule and shortened offseason. However, the playoffs were marred by injuries to some of the league's most prominent players.Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns' star and president of the National Basketball Players Association, addressed criticisms of the league and NBPA for their quick turnaround. He also discussed how this could have adversely affected player health.LeBron James of Los Angeles Lakers was a vocal critic. He served as Paul's vice-president with the players' union between 2015 and 2019. James posted on Twitter last month that he had predicted the problems, despite stars being left out of almost every playoff series.Paul addressed James' comments but did not directly address them.Paul stated that "Man, one thing about the league and its players" was something he said on Monday during Finals media days. "There are a lot of guys on our executive committee that are hard at work right now -- day in, day out, traveling. I wish you guys were aware of all the happenings. Players are involved in all decisions, whether they are playing or not."Injuries are never pleasant. It is not nice to have them. Just like in the bubble, all was discussed between the players and the entire body of players. While everything might not be the best for one guy or another, it is all part of a conversation and will continue to be so. If people don't like it then you know that everyone has the same chance to be part of these conversations.Before Game 1, the Suns discussed how they would prepare for the Bucks in the event that Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee's injured star player, was not able to play.Monty Williams, Suns coach, stated that the pressure they apply to the paint is consistent even with Giannis out. However, you can see a new way of doing this now with Jrue (Holiday) attacking and Brook [Lopez diving]. We have to respect that. With Giannis diving in the pick-and roll, especially with Khris Middleton, you have to respect them. Without Giannis, it seems that there is a different way to attack the paint. Then there are all their men who crash the boards."So, they haven’t stopped playing how they want to play. In the playoffs, the pressure on the paint was pretty constant."The Suns were able to defeat the Bucks despite Milwaukee's two-time MVP being in the lineup. They won two consecutive games -- 125-124 on February 10th and 128-127 on April 19th -- despite Antetokounmpo scoring 40 points on 60% shooting and 9.5 rebounds.Deandre Ayton, Suns center, said that he is preparing to play in the Finals as Antetokounmpo will return on the court during the series.Ayton stated that he was primarily concerned with matching his physicality, and at the end of it all, just competing. You cannot afford to back down from this challenge. Knowing his foul awareness, being the first to defend him and simply showing him a wall. You want to keep your distance from him and the ball at all costs."It's about being prepared for the challenge, period."