Aside from the excitement of playing real basketball – even if it’s only in the form of an exhibition – knowing the scrums so close also serves as notice to one of the most important altruistic goals of this reboot of the NBA.
An important aspect to watch as this NBA season resumes will be how the league, teams and players seek to continue and deepen the ongoing conversation about racial and social justice.
So far, what we’ve seen from the league is a plan to paint the slogan “Black Lives Matter” on NBA courts and give players the option of replacing their names on the back of their shirts with one of 29 leagues. social justice messages approved.
The latter of these two initiatives we know of has been criticized by some players, raising the question of whether what the NBA is doing is enough to help champion this cause.
The jury is still out on that question, but something that is almost indisputable was the work the Raptors did in the run-up to the season’s restart to help keep that narrative going.
Showing up at the Walt Disney World bubble in a bus proudly emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” in giant capital letters, the Raptors made a statement to the rest of the NBA as standard bearers of the important socially conscious mission of the league. .
“It’s super intentional for endless reasons, but I think we understand our position, we understand the impact we can have,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster told Tim and Sid on Friday of his squad. trying to make a statement on racial justice. “The buses have been great because they raise awareness and draw attention to the issue, but we are also just as committed to making real change in communities, be it in Toronto, Canada, the United States. are kind of the two avenues that we always focus on, which is how to keep making the conversation public, but also how do we work in our own communities and how do we work in our own stages to really influence. change for the long term.
“So extremely important to all of us, who we are as people, what we want this organization to represent, what we want this organization to be synonymous with the NBA and the world. It is therefore something that is close to our hearts.
The Raptors have been the envy of the league for what they have done so far to help champion the cause, drawing universal praise from players, teams and commentators.
And by the sound of things, the Raptors are just getting started in this pre-game phase of preparation that we’re still in. Expect the Raptors to continue to get this message out, even though there is basketball to be discussed.
“I think the message I gave the guys today is great,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said on a conference call Friday, while calling attention to the “Black Lives Matter” shirt. He was wearing. “Our buses and our posts and the coaches wearing pins and the ground and the back of the jerseys, it’s great, but we have to remember that when we started all of this we were looking for concrete and lasting changes and things that really were impactful. . ”
Among the long-term ways that Nurse seeks to bring about the change is an ongoing conversation he has had with his fellow NBA head coaches about how to get people to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. . Nurse has personally worked on materials to educate American citizens, like him, living abroad, to register to vote. He said that a public service announcement containing information about it should fall on Friday or Saturday.
Additionally, in those conversations with her peer coaches, Nurse said there have been conversations for coaches to use the platform offered to them in their daily press conferences to get messages across, like which the nurse did on Friday with her “Black Lives Matter” shirt.
So just because basketball games will start to be played doesn’t mean the ongoing conversation will suddenly end, as long as the Raptors are concerned. They will not allow that to happen.
The Raptors have a player subcommittee made up of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol where team members can visit to raise issues of racial and social justice. There is another sub-committee with management and part of the coaching staff which includes the nurse, Wesbter and the president of the Masai Ujiri team who can also be used as a resource.
This has created a mosaic of thought within the Raptors organization. He gave players the freedom to express their feelings on the issue of racial inequality early on in this movement, which was sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
It’s a probable cause why a player like Norman Powell felt comfortable criticizing the NBA-approved list of social justice messages players can wear on Thursday and why teammate Malcolm Miller also failed. had no problem echoing his sentiment.
“I really understand that the NBA is trying to give us a platform, to give us a voice, to use its platform,” Miller said. “But at the same time, I feel that limiting the options is a piece of cake. It’s a bit of a censorship, almost, of what we mean.
Much like Powell, Miller chooses to wear “Black Lives Matter” because he thinks it’s an important move. Unlike Powell, however, Miller doesn’t know what he would have put on the back of his jersey if he had a choice, mainly because once the final list of picks was sent out, he hadn’t reduced what ‘he wanted to say.
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If you had had the choice, the message would surely have been interesting. Miller is not afraid to let people know where he is socially and politically. He has intriguing perspectives as a player who has played a season in Berlin and he thinks he sees the kind of repentance needed in the United States.
« [Berlin’s] still one of my favorite cities because of the level of understanding between people, between individuals, between different races, ”Miller said. “And I have a feeling that kind of growth is what we have to start striving towards, understand everyone and not be selective.
“… Recognizing what was wrong and what you did wrong and not passing it off as ancient history is a big step. The monuments and things in them are acknowledgments of the mistakes they made in the past, not commemorations of various war generals who believed in slavery.
“Yes, I think we can certainly take some notes. Definitely different situations, definitely different types of oppression with certain similarities. At the same time, recognition and progress as a country are things that we have to do and that we have to focus on. ”
This is just one example of the wealth of knowledge the Raptors have at their disposal, and coupled with an organization that seems to encourage diversity of thought, it’s no wonder Toronto seemed to be at the forefront of the message. justice system of the NBA. .
Real basketball games are just around the corner, and while there may be some trepidation if the Raptors can repeat themselves as champions on the court, there shouldn’t be any about them off the court.