The Toronto Raptors seem to be considering a boycott of future games, according to players Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell, in response to the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday night.
The potential boycott discussed among VanVleet, Powell, and their teammates stems from a sense of frustration that the NBA’s recent Black Lives Matter messaging is not doing enough to combat the reality of violence against Black people by police.
“I'm in a different place today, emotionally speaking. It's starting to feel like everything we're doing is just going through the motions, nothing's changing,” VanVleet reportedly said during a press call on Tuesday. “What are we willing to give up? Do we actually give a fuck about what’s going on?”
Graphic footage of the Sunday shooting, per the Associated Press, shows police shooting at Blake's back about seven times as he walked away and got into the driver's side of an SUV. Today it was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times that Blake has “eight holes” in his body and is currently paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors are reportedly unsure if Blake’s paralysis is permanent.
Protests erupted in Wisconsin as footage of the incident spread across the internet. NBA players quickly reacted to the shooting, demanding justice for Blake. Now some players are considering more direct action in the form of a boycott. During the media call Powell emphasized that he’s "sick to his stomach that he has to sit up here and talk about this again."
Celtics guard Marcus Smart also discussed the possibility of a boycott, but said that nothing is for sure yet. The Celtics are set to play against the Raptors on Thursday. "It’s been talked about, but we haven’t confirmed anything. It’s definitely in the back of our minds to not play,” Smart said, per CBS Boston. "There’s more important things than basketball right now. … Something has to be done, and right now our focus should not be on basketball."
Jaylen Brown of the Celtics also spoke out about the shooting on Tuesday. "There is an emphasis in this country on the framing of these instances, such as Jacob Blake. ‘Well, he was a convicted felon. Well, he had a history of police brutality. He possibly had a weapon.’ This framework is not unfamiliar to people of color and African Americans, nor does it constitute death or being shot seven times," Brown said. "The reality is the majority of African Americans and people of color have a history with police. It comes with the plagues of systematic oppression, lack of education, economic opportunity and housing."
There is inequalities and injustices that carry HARSH punishments for people of color !! I watched a man get shot 7 times in front of his children they will never be able to unsee what they just saw every nerve in my body is on fire— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) August 25, 2020
Brown continued, "“Are we not human beings? Is Jacob Blake not a human being? I don’t care if he did something 10 years ago, 10 days ago or 10 minutes ago. If he served his sentence and was released back in society, he still deserves to be treated like a human and doesn’t deserve to be shot in the back seven times with the intent to kill. His kids will never unsee that. His family will never unsee that. Frankly, I will never unsee that."
On Wednesday, Marc J. Spears reported tat both teams met at their hotel to discuss the possible boycott. A source told Spears that "everything is on the table."
They will reportedly meet again on the eve of their game.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said some of his players have discussed leaving the bubble altogether.
Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports reports that players who were "emotionally traumatized" by Blake's death met at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort on Tuesday, NBPA president Chris Paul, and vice president Andre Iguodala were in attendance. According to Yahoo's Chris Haynes, many players are not in the "right frame of mind" to play, and are "psychologically distraught" by the Blake video.
The NBPA plans to educate players on the ramifications of boycotting games, as well as offering support no matter what their decision is.
Later on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks did not take the court ahead of their Game 5 matchup with the Orlando Magic. Minutes later, the Magic left the court.