NBA Players Considering Boycotting Playoff Game in Response to Jacob Blake Shooting
Members of two NBA teams have said they're considering boycotting games in protest of the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, on Sunday in Wisconsin.
On Tuesday, Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet told reporters inside the NBA bubble in Florida that the team may not play against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of a second-round playoff series Thursday.
VanVleet, 26, said that the Raptors "had a meeting this morning" where "a number of things have been discussed."
"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 told reporters.
"So, for example," he added, "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," VanVleet said, according to NBA.com. "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."
A rep for the Raptors declined to comment beyond VanVleet's interview.
Celtics guard Marcus Smart said when speaking to reporters on Tuesday that the possibility of a boycott is "something in the back of our mind."
"It's been talked. I don't know. It's something in the back of our mind. There's more important things than basketball right now," Smart, 26, said.
According to NBA.com, he continued, "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. So we definitely need to take a different approach, and we definitely need to try new things out to get this thing working the way that we know it should and get our voices heard even more."
A rep for the Boston Celtics did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Blake, a 29-year-old father of six, was shot multiple times by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he opened the driver's side door of a vehicle and leaned in with three of his sons inside the car, according to video of the incident and Ben Crump, an attorney for the Blake family.
Blake's father says his son, who is recovering, was left paralyzed from the waist down by the shooting, although doctors have not said whether the injury is permanent.
The incident has since sparked three straight nights of protests and destruction in Kenosha.
After the NBA's season resumed last month, many players — including LeBron James — showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by linking arms and kneeling during the national anthem.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver seemed to support the players' decision to kneel, telling The New York Times, “I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem.”
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.