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Celtics, Raptors discuss NBA bubble boycott after Blake shooting

This past Sunday, Jacob Blake was trying to break up a fight near his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when he was shot by a police officer. According to the protests that have broken out across the country in response, this incident exemplified excessive use of force by police.

Wisconsin residents are outraged by the attempt on another man’s life and have taken to the streets to protest in honor of Blake. The outcry for justice does not stay in one place; National Basketball Association players and coaches are outraged as well. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers shared an emotional interview after Tuesday’s 154-111 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

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NBA players are taking to Twitter to voice their response to the officer shooting unarmed Blake in the back.

“And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another Black man being targeted. This sh*t is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE,” Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said via Twitter.

The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are noticeably upset about the threat to Blake’s life. Toronto guard Fred VanVleet had a powerful statement that reflects the Raptors’ thoughts about being in the NBA bubble while people outside of the bubble are fighting for equality.

“Do we actually give a f*ck about what’s going on?” VanVleet said. “Or is it just cool to have Black Lives Matter on the backdrop or wear a T-shirt? What does that really mean?” 

“Black Lives Matter means more than basketball.”

Players from the Raptors and Celtics feel they are not doing enough inside of the bubble for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I know it’s not that simple,” VanVleet said. “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.”

In a show of solidarity, the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic players left the court before their game five in boycott efforts.

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Taking things further than boycotting games, some players are thinking about opting out of the bubble and going home. Celtics star Jayson Tatum and other players are currently considering going home before the NBA playoffs crown a 2020 champion.

Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown has been active in voicing his thoughts on BLM and has been active in the George Floyd protests before the bubble happened. He tweeted out Tuesday, “I want to go protest,” which indicates that he could be one of the players to leave the bubble if it comes down to that.

2020 NBA Coach of the Year and coach of the Raptors Nick Nurse commented on the players’ intentions of boycotting NBA games.

“The players are deeply disappointed that the same thing happens again in a relatively short time frame,” Nurse said. “They want to be part of the solution, they want to help, they want justice, they want this particular problem to be handled in a much better way.”

Nurse continued advocating for his players by explaining their intentions.

“Boycotting the game has come up for them as a way to again try to demand a little more action,” Nurse said. “I think that’s really what they want. I think there’s enough attention, and there’s not quite enough action, and I think that’s what I can sense from the discussion is their disappointments of ‘man, how can we get something to change, like, now?’”

Today, the Boston Celtics are scheduled to face off against the Toronto Raptors for the first game of the eastern conference semi-finals. Both teams are in talks about walking out before tip-off to support Blake and his family through protest. NBA fans are waiting to see if the bubble is going to be popped for the sake of social justice and civil rights.

Regardless of the outcome, many players have made it clear: Black Lives Matter means more than basketball.

Tyler Meguire can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TMeguire.

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