Everything is on the table for the Raptors and social justice, including boycotting Game 1 of their series vs. the Celtics.
Raptors players Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell said Monday that the team is considering sitting out Thursday’s NBA playoff matchup vs. Boston, the first game of their series in the second round of the postseason, in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23.
Norm Powell and Fred VanVleet have both said that there have been conversations about boycotting. There is frustration that messages aren’t getting across.
— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) August 25, 2020
ESPN’s Jay Williams followed up with Toronto star Kyle Lowry, and reports that the team is “exploring anything and everything” when it comes to social justice and sending a message to the league.
Before the restart of the NBA season, factions of players were opposed to taking the court, saying that the decision to play may take away from a country-wide focus on and protests of racial injustices in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
VanVleet also made it clear that the Raptors are leaving all available options on the table when it comes to sending a message of social justice to the NBA and the rest of the country. VanVleet spoke on Tuesday, but didn’t take any questions regarding basketball during his media availability.
This is Fred VanVleet’s full quote on when I asked him today about the possibility of a boycott in wake of Jakob Blake shooting: pic.twitter.com/DQWvydEM58
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) August 25, 2020
VanVleet: “What are we willing to give up? Do we actually give a f— about what’s going on?”
Both Fred and Norm Powell said the team met this morning and a possible boycott of games has been discussed, that the Black Lives Matter messaging, etc. is not enough.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) August 25, 2020
While the NBA has allowed players to share messages of social justice on their jerseys and has included “Black Lives Matter” lettering on its court in Orlando, some critics view the NBA’s standing as co-opting the players’ protests to make them less intrusive and abrasive to the viewing public.
Other NBA coaches and players including Doc Rivers and George Hill offered impassioned comments in the wake of Blake’s shooting.
Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha, Wis., police, is currently paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors are unsure whether his paralysis is permanant.