The National Basketball Players Association executive committee has been in communication with players to discuss the logistics of potentially boycotting games, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
According to Haynes, those discussions have been spearheaded by players who are “emotionally traumatized” by the video of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, being shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Players began reaching out to the NBPA’s executive committee this week to say they’re not in the right frame of mind to play basketball, sources tell Haynes.
Haynes reports that an assembly of players met at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort on Tuesday night to discuss the situation, with Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala among the NBPA leaders who were in attendance.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) separately reported that Raptors and Celtics players met at their hotel on Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of boycotting Game 1 of their series on Thursday — presumably, that was the same meeting cited by Haynes. The two teams are expected to meet again tonight, a source tells Spears (Twitter link).
The NBPA has been educating players on the pros and cons of a boycott and letting those players know they’ll support them whatever they decide to do, writes Haynes. The feeling after last night’s meeting is that a majority of Raptors and Celtics players want to play Game 1 on Thursday, tweets Spears.
Bringing attention to social justice issues and systemic racism was among players’ primary goals when they agreed to the NBA’s restart plan this summer. However, in the wake of the latest shooting of a Black man by police, a number of players feel as if their efforts to raise awareness and enact change have been overshadowed by on-court results — Bucks guard George Hill argued earlier this week that resuming the season took the focus off of “what the issues are.”
The Raptors, Celtics, and other players around the NBA are discussing what other measures could be taken to address the situation and to “thwart police brutality toward people of color,” according to Haynes. At this point, a boycott may not be the likeliest outcome, but Raptors guard Fred VanVleet explained the thinking behind the idea on Tuesday, as Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps of ESPN relayed.
“We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything, but I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody,” VanVleet said. “So, for example, this happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, if I’m correct? Would it be nice if, in a perfect world, we all say we’re not playing, and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks — that’s going to trickle down. If he steps up to the plate and puts pressure on the district attorney’s office, and state’s attorney, and governors, and politicians there to make real change and get some justice.
“I know it’s not that simple. But, at the end of the day, if we’re gonna sit here and talk about making change, then at some point we’re gonna have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility.”