Since the NBA resumed play in July, we’ve seen protests, demonstrations and players have been extremely vocal about a multitude of issues that impact our communities.
But one thing we haven’t seen is players outright refuse to play games in the name of social justice. And with tensions boiling after 29-year-old Jacob Blake was ruthlessly shot in the back at least seven times on Sunday by police officers in Kenosha, Wis., NBC Sports reports that the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are strongly considering making an unprecedented stance in his name.
The two teams are scheduled to face off on Thursday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but it’s evident that players have other plans.
“I understand it’s the playoffs and everything like that but we still have a bigger issue, an underlying issue that’s going on, and the things that we’ve tried haven’t been working.” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “So we definitely need to take a different approach and we need to try new things out to try to get this thing working the way that we know it should and get our voices heard even more.”
When asked about the possibility of boycotting Thursday’s game, Norm Powell and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors admitted it’s on the table.
“It’s being talked about,” Powell said. “Taking a knee is not getting it done.”
“It’s just starting to feel like everything we’re doing is just going through the motions. Nothing’s changing,” VanVleet said. “What are we willing to give up? Do we actually give a fuck about what’s going on, or is it just cool to have Black Lives Matter on the backdrop or wearing a T-shirt?”
They’ve got a point.
While the NBA is doing an admirable job of centering awareness on these issues, a Game 1 boycott—or indefinite work stoppage—would fuck up a lotttt of money. In turn, a plethora of corporate entities would be far more inclined to use their power and influence to support the players’ push for real social change.
And just in case you think this is all just lip service, Yahoo reports that the NBA Players Association has been in talks with players on how best to navigate the very real potential for a boycott.
An assembly, organized by players who are emotionally traumatized by the latest police-involved shooting of an African American that was captured on video, was held Tuesday night at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, sources said, and there were multiple conversations about what actions could be taken throughout the day.
The union’s approach is to educate players on the pros and cons of boycotting games and reassuring them that they would be supported regardless of whatever they decide to do, sources said.
For his part, Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who was recently named the 2019-20 NBA Coach of the Year, asserts that if his players are about that action, he’s down for the cause too—as is the Raptors organization.
“I think everyone’s done everything they can do with wearing t-shirts and hats, painting the floors [with “Black Lives Matter”] and kneeling,” Nurse said on the Tim and Sid radio show. “They want to make more of an impact. [...] They want more action and they’re seeking answers.”
This is definitely something to keep an eye on leading up to the game, as it’s a real possibility that we could be bearing witness to one of the most powerful protests in the history of professional sports on Thursday.