UPDATE: Aug. 26, 1:38 p.m. — The NBA and Players Association are in talks about the logistics of players boycotting games in the playoffs, Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday.
Players are emotionally traumatized by the shooting of Jacob Blake and organized an assembly to discuss how to proceed. Per the report, Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala were both present for the meeting. CP3 is the union president and Iggy is the first vice president for the NBPA. Players are stating that they are not in the right state of mind to be playing basketball.
UPDATE: Aug. 26, 11:43 a.m. — The Raptors and Celtics will meet Wednesday night to discuss further the idea of boycotting the second round following the shooting of Jacob Blake, ESPN’s Marc Spears reported.
The Celtics and Raptors players are expected to meet again tonight, a source said.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 26, 2020
Raptors coach Nick Nurse has also heard players talking about potentially leaving the NBA bubble in Orlando and going home.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse says he has heard a couple of players talk about going home.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 26, 2020
The Toronto Raptors are discussing the idea of boycotting Game 1 of the second round vs. the Boston Celtics on Thursday in light of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin, ESPN’s Malika Andrews reported Tuesday.
The Raptors held a team meeting prior to practice on Tuesday to discuss how to proceed. Those discussions are where the idea of sitting out popped up. We’ve also seen plenty of comments made throughout the NBA and its players following the police shooting of Blake. Here’s what PG Fred VanVleet had to say about the shooting and the Raptors meeting.
“We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything, but I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “So, for example, this happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, if I’m correct? Would it be nice if, in a perfect world, we all say we’re not playing, and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks — that’s going to trickle down. If he steps up to the plate and puts pressure on the district attorney’s office, and state’s attorney, and governors, and politicians there to make real change and get some justice.
“I know it’s not that simple. But, at the end of the day if we’re gonna sit here and talk about making change then at some point we’re gonna have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility. I’m just over the media aspect of it, it’s sensationalized, we talk about it everyday, that’s all we see, but it just feels like a big pacifier to me.”
If you’d like to listen to the entire video of VanVleet’s response, here’s a link via CityNews in Montreal. VanVleet brings up the idea of the NBA players not participating in the playoffs until something is done about social injustice in the country. Many went to the NBA bubble in Orlando to send a message to the rest of the world about what they’ve been through and how people can respond to spark change in the U.S. Many players put messages on the backs of their jerseys throughout the season restart, but that doesn’t seem to have done all they thought it would.
This hits home for the Raptors and specifically President Masai Ujiri, who was involved in an incident with police after Toronto won its first championship last season. Ujiri was shoved by a deputy at Oracle Arena while trying to get onto the court to celebrate the Raptors’ championship. The deputy is seen asking fans to exit the arena before forcefully pushing Ujiri, the orchestrator of the title winning team. So this latest incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a bit more personal for the Toronto franchise.
The report from ESPN also has the Celtics considering the same route as coach Brad Stevens mentions. Stevens says that no players on the Celtics specifically mentioned not wanting to play as a result of the Blake shooting. Here’s what Boston G Marcus Smart had to say on the subject.
“We tried to be peaceful, kneeling, we tried to protest,” Smart told ESPN. “And for us, we tried to come out here and get together and play this game and try to get our voice across. But it’s not working, so obviously something has to be done. Right now, our focus shouldn’t really be on basketball. I understand it’s the playoffs and everything like that, but we still have a bigger underlying issue that’s going on and the things that we’ve tried haven’t been working, so we definitely need to take a different approach and we definitely need to try new things out to get this thing working the way that we know it should and get our voices heard even more.”
So clearly both teams are mulling the idea of not playing. This would be a huge turn of events in what has been a very successful restart to the NBA season. While basketball is important, it’s very clear that the message of social injustice is paramount for the players, coaches and staff. We’ll see what happens before Game 1 is scheduled to take place on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.