Raptors and Celtics Considering Boycotting Game 1 Following Jacob Blake Shooting

Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell told reporters on Tuesday that the Raptors discussed the possibility of boycotting future games to protest police violence.

fred vanvleet blm

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fred vanvleet blm

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. 

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

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. 

Let's get clear on this: Players never had this idea that messages on their jersey or taking a knee during anthems was the ONLY fix to what's going on right now.

— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) August 25, 2020

“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?”

Fred VanVleet today pic.twitter.com/yqtGMFsZrI

— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) August 25, 2020

Fred VanVleet used his 10+ minute media call to express his frustration after the shooting of Jacob Blake. "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."

— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) August 25, 2020

Fred says right now everyone including the players in the bubble needs to really ask themselves this:

“What are we willing to give up? Do we actually give a fuck about what’s going on?”

— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) August 25, 2020

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-Timesthat 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."

The Raptors just finished their media avail. for the day. Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell spoke for 30+ minutes. It was powerful, emotional and very real. You'll see quotes/clips but, if you can, I urge you to find, watch, and truly listen to the full call. Every word is important.

— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) August 25, 2020

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

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."

Raptors & Celtics players met last night at their hotel about possibly boycotting tomorrow Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and other potential measures in light of the Jacob Blake shooting, a source told @TheUndefeated. Source from both teams says everything on table.

— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 26, 2020

They will reportedly meet again on the eve of their game.

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 said some of his players have discussed leaving the bubble altogether.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse says he has heard a couple of players talk about going home.

— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 26, 2020

Nurse says he's heard a few Raptors say they've thought about going home. He thinks there's more they can do there playing and using the platform. (But again, he's sounded supportive of any decision.)

— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) August 26, 2020

Nick Nurse: "Boycotting the game has come up for them as a way to again try to demand a little more action. And I think that's really what they want. I think there's enough attention and there's not quite enough action, and I think that's what I can sense from the discussion."

— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) August 26, 2020

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.

The Milwaukee Bucks still haven't come out to the court for Game 6 with the Orlando Magic and there's been some discussion within the Bucks about a boycott, sources tell @malika_andrews and me. NBA officials have gone into the Milwaukee locker room.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020

The Orlando magic have left the court with 3:56 left until game time. https://t.co/qEwjaQGQVc

— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) August 26, 2020

Top NBA executives are outside of the Milwaukee locker room, but haven't gone inside, per source.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020

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