Raptors kneel for US, Canadian anthems in first game return

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – The Toronto Raptors got down on their knees for the Canadian and US national anthems ahead of their first real game in nearly five months on Saturday. Connecting their arms in a line behind the words “Black Lives Matter” on the field, the Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers knelt for The Star-Spangled Banner.

The Raptors changed knees to “O Canada,” a powerful message in unison.

Toronto faced the Lakers in their first of eight ranking games as the NBA resumed after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse had said the day before his team would treat the two anthems as “one long song,” stressing that Canada has police brutality issues it must work on as well.

“It is not a question of country, it is not a question of borders, for me it is a question of continuing to shed light on the fact that we must do better in (the) field of police brutality , we need to do better in the area of ​​systemic racism. Said the nurse. “It’s not just Canada, America, it’s a lot of places, so we’re treating it like a long song tomorrow. ”

Reporting weeks after George Floyd’s murder sparked an American uprising – many NBA players protested in the days that followed – the NBA vowed the return of basketball would not be a distraction from justice issues racial and social.

They are at the forefront of the NBA restart. The words “Black Lives Matter” are written in large print on the three courts used at Walt Disney World. Both teams warmed up on Saturday wearing black shirts bearing the same message.

Players were allowed to replace their names on the backs of their shirts with messages of racial and social justice, choosing from a dozen messages authored by the league.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 1, 2020.

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