Raptors Discussing a Potential Playoff Boycott vs. Celtics

Getty Images (L-R) Pascal Siakam #43 Raptors, Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors, and Marc Gasol #33

The anger and frustration from NBA players with police brutality within African American communities may have just reached its boiling point.

Toronto Raptors players Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell say Toronto is discussing possibly boycotting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals best-of-7 series, per TSN. Jacob Blake, 29, who was shot seven times just two days ago in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been the focus of yet another police shooting involving an African American, thus creating uproar and protests in cities across the nation.

“You know coming down here and making a choice to play was supposed to not be in vain, but it’s just starting to feel like everything we’re doing is going through the motions and nothing’s really changing,” VanVleet said Tuesday. “Here we are today with another unfortunate incident, so my thoughts today are with that man and his family and trying to wrap my mind around what they’re going through.”

No police officers involved in the incident have been arrested. Blake, who continues to recover from his injuries, is now paralyzed from Sunday’s shooting, per CNN. His lawyer says it will “take a miracle” for Blake to walk again.

VanVleet & Powell Speak Out

VanVleet says it’s now up to professional athletes to use their platform for the betterment of others, according to TSN.

“We’re the ones with the microphones in our face, we’re the ones who have to make a stand,” VanVleet said. “The responsibility falls on us to make a change to stop being oppressed. At what point do we not have to speak about it any more?

“Are we going to hold everybody accountable, or are we just going to put the spotlight on Black people or Black athletes or entertainers and say ‘What are you doing?’ What are you contributing to your community? What are you putting on the line?”

Powell, like the rest of us, isn’t seeing change. He continued to express his frustration Tuesday, using the NBA’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ logo and clothing with the message draped across as examples of awareness from the league but not a step in the direction of actual change.

“There’s a lot of things that have been talked about on how to approach this sensitive issue,” Powell said. “I think everybody’s at the point of sitting up and saying ‘Black Live Matter’ and having these discussions and Zoom calls and putting apparel on, that’s not getting the job done. Taking a knee for 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 thing in conversation now.”

Justice For Jacob Blake

Basketball was the last thing VanVleet wanted to talk about. The Raptors guard says if or when Game 1 is moments away, he’ll be ready but in the meantime, his focus is on justice.

“I don’t really care about that right now to be honest with you,” VanVleet said. “I’m sure when Thuresday comes and it’s time to play I’ll be able to lock into basketball, it’s not really hard for me. I know that’s (the Celtics) an unbelievably talented team, a great team, and I think the fans have been looking forward to this for a long time.

“Once we get to that point, if er get to that point then we’ll deal with that when it comes, but right now today, on Tuesday, I couldn’t care less.”

Powell hopes the drastic measure of sitting out of a playoff game will catapult change.

“Something needs to happen where you’re forcing those people who can affect and make the change to do something.”

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