The Toronto Raptors are set to begin a playoff series against the Boston Celtics on Thursday after sweeping the Brooklyn Nets. However, the players may not suit up for the matchup following the shooting of Black man, Jacob Blake, by police in Wisconsin. Now the players are discussing a boycott in pursuit of creating change.
Toronto Raptors player Fred VanVleet told reporters that the team had a meeting and discussed "a number of things." He also spoke about putting on Black Lives Matter shirts and asked if it was doing anything, or if "it's just cool." Teammate Norman Powell also talked about the apparel choices and said that it's not getting the job done. The players are still wanting to see a change in the country, but their previous efforts have not brought about results.
"It's been talked about," Powell said about the boycott, per Sportsnet. "There are a lot of things that are being talked about in how to approach this sensitive issue. I think everybody's at the point of sitting up here and saying Black Lives Matter and sitting up having discussions and Zoom calls and this, that and the other, putting apparel on, that's not getting the job done. Taking the knee from the anthem, that's not getting the job done. It's starting to get washed out.
"I feel like Black Lives Matter is just another part of [the] conversation now because you see it so much. It's everywhere. Now it's just in the daily conversation. It's kind of getting to the point where I see Black Lives Matter, and it's an everyday thing [but] something has to happen to where you are forcing those people who can affect and make the change to do something."
Powell continued and said that everyone knows where the NBA players stand. However, they don't see lawmakers taking action to create change in communities. Now he wants to know how they can "force the hand." Powell says that carrying your own arms and fighting back against the police is one option but says that it won't change anything. He also expressed the belief that doing so would create another narrative.
"And if we go and fight back then we're gonna have another issue on our hands, [so] how do we resolve this in the right way to force those lawmakers, those legislators, those senators, governors and so-on and so-forth in the government to put the rules and laws in place that prevents this from happening?" Powell asked. "And that's the steps and things that are being talked about: how do we demand more now? In those conversations and building blocks, how do we formulate a plan to create change and make this happen immediately?"
The Raptors have not confirmed that they will boycott the upcoming playoff series against the Celtics. However, this is an option that is on the table. The players are continuing to have these discussions and are expressing hope that doing so would prompt change across the country.