Raptors’ Fred VanVleet says’ terrible time ‘for NBA to restart, but he will play

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said it was difficult to decide whether to participate in the NBA season restart amid the coronavirus pandemic and protests for social justice.

Finally, however, he decided to play.

“It sucks,” VanVleet said in a conference call Monday about having to make that decision. “It is a terrible time. But that has been 2020 for us. We all know that the right thing is not to play, to take a position. Morally, yes, that makes sense. But life goes on. We are all young, black boys. None of us wants to return money. I don’t think we should. I think money can be used in different ways.

“However, this is not going to end this summer, nor in the coming months. This problem, racial injustice, social injustice, police brutality, all these things will not end soon. Our fight was long term. That was part of my decision

“But if the league, or more of my boys, had come together and said we didn’t want to play, I would have sat down, too. I wouldn’t even have fought. I think most of us decided to play. It’s something we’ll have to live with. I am confident that my heart is in the right place and I am doing enough to make the change. “

The Raptors became the first team to travel to Florida before next month’s restart, after having played at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers for two weeks before heading to the NBA bubble within Disney. World on July 9.

And although Raptors president Masai Ujiri said he didn’t have to convince any of his players, all of whom were participating in the restarted season, to play, he said there were discussions across the team that he believed were important to everyone participate in the game. same page.

“I think it is important that we communicate with all of our players and this takes time,” he said. “It is a process and we all put our heads together with our organization as much as we can, especially in a situation like this.

“It focuses on safety, it focuses on individual safety and also on their families … We have to involve everyone. Our coaches participated, our players participated in this decision to go there.”

Ujiri, the only black president of NBA basketball operations, said the platform the NBA has as part of this comeback to play in Orlando is something he believes he, the Raptors as an organization, and the league as a whole can take advantage of. to promote change. both in the NBA and in society.

“First of all, this is a really interesting time,” said Ujiri. “Black lives do matter, and we’re really going to use this platform, I think. It’s continuous, right? This is something I don’t think will stop. Because, so there is much, much, much, much to address. We have had very good discussions and meetings.

“I think you saw what Adam said at the league level. I think that is, first and foremost, what the league would do. I think we are concentrating on a few things. What does the NBA do in the long term, in terms of What resources are you going to put into this? I think there is a discussion about black executives and black jobs in the NBA. And then there is a discussion about how to use the Orlando campus, to show the world that we can be a voice, [the] Players can be a voice. “

Players will likely be able to have personalized social justice, social cause or charity messages on the back of their jerseys instead of their last names during the upcoming reboot, as Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported this weekend.

“Yes, I’ve thought about it,” said VanVleet. “I think it’s great … Some of what we’ve talked about in some of our meetings is how we get some of our ‘propaganda’, so to speak, to come out because the only way this is being consumed is on television, so I think that is going to go a long way and it is something that will last for many years, people will always look back on these games and the first thing they will see is if there is a fist on the court or a name and they will have to look and say “What is that?” or ‘Who is Breonna Taylor?’ or ‘who is George Floyd?’ if that’s what the boys choose. “

VanVleet said he was still unsure what he would say as he wanted to have conversations with people in his life before committing to any message he chooses to display on his shirt.

“My high school coach, my stepfather, a couple of people I admire, my financial advisor. Older guys who have been around for a while,” he said.
“My high school coach is a professor of African American studies, so I respect his perspective as an older white man who has a master’s degree in African American studies.”

As for life within the bubble, VanVleet said he admitted that he was concerned about the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Florida, and said part of why he was willing to be there was that his family did not have than being there with him, which could have made them vulnerable to the virus.

Players will have the option for family members to join them if they are on one of eight teams that advance beyond the first round of the playoffs, something defending champions Raptors hope to do. VanVleet said the decision to take his family with him is something he will resolve as the date approaches.

“I am here only for a while and I will still be able to make that decision if they can come before the date that allows them to come,” he said. “I will be there for a month or more before they are allowed to come. So I will have an idea of ​​how things are and how they are and how risky or dangerous it is.”

“I definitely respect the guys who took the sitting position for whatever reason. But my choice was to come and play. I’m not right and they’re not wrong. It’s just a personal choice for everyone.”