Following Jacob Blake's shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, NBA players are considering a boycott of the NBA Playoffs. Several players have spoken about the possibility and said that winning games is no longer the primary focus. They have not confirmed that a boycott will take place, but this option is on the table for multiple teams.
Speaking with reporters, Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors and Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics both confirmed that players have considered a potential boycott. The two players and their teams are set to face off during the second round of the playoffs, but this series could ultimately not take place. VanVleet said that the players had a meeting and discussed a "number of things" while Smart said that a boycott is "in the back of our minds."
"At some point, we're the ones always with the microphones in our face," VanVleet said during a press conference. "We're the ones always who have to make a stand. We're the first ones and the responsibility falls on us to make a change to stop being oppressed. Are we going to hold everybody accountable or we're just going to put the spotlight on Black people who are Black athletes or entertainers and say: 'What are you doing, what are you contributing to the community, what are you putting on the line?'
"And then us, too, we've got to take responsibility as well. Like, what are we willing to give up until we actually give a f— about what's going on? Or is it just cool to wear Black Lives Matter on the backdrop or wear a T-shirt? Like what does that really mean? Is it really doing anything? I'm in a different place today just emotionally-speaking."
Smart also spoke out and said that boycotting might be the only option at this point. He said that the players previously tried the peaceful way of kneeling and that they also tried to protest. He also said that the players tried to get the message across during the NBA restart in the Orlando bubble. This included wearing Black Lives Matter shirts and kneeling during the national anthem.
"Right now, our focus shouldn't really be on basketball," Smart said. "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. We definitely need to take a different approach."