Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said Wednesday that the team met with members of the Boston Celtics to discuss the possibility of boycotting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Nurse told reporters that the idea of boycotting is “on the table” as one way for players to use their platforms to protest police brutality and systemic racism.
“They want to be part of a solution, they want to help, they want justice … Boycotting the game has come up for them as a way to demand a little more action, and I think that’s really what they want,” Nurse said via videoconference. “I think there’s enough attention, and there’s not quite enough action.”
Nurse said he has heard talk of some Raptors discussing the possibility of leaving the bubble altogether.
“I have heard a couple of our guys say, ‘I’m thinking about going home,'” he explained, adding that he did not know if that was a team-wide discussion.
“I’ve had a couple really deep, heartfelt discussions with a few of these guys here this morning about playing, not playing, being in the bubble, leaving the bubble,” Nurse said.
Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated first reported earlier Wednesday that members of the Raptors and Celtics met Tuesday night about the possibility, and will meet again Wednesday to discuss various options.
The two clubs are scheduled to begin their head-to-head series Thursday night.
Also on Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that the NBA Players Association’s executive committee “is in active discussions with players who are seeking guidance on the logistics of potentially boycotting games.”
The need for more action comes in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisc.
Per Haynes, players inside the bubble organized an assembly on Tuesday for those dealing with emotional trauma after video of the shooting was released. NBA players have been contacting the committee in the days since video was released. In the video, Blake is shown being shot multiple times in the back by police officers.
Those reaching out have expressed feeling emotionally traumatized and “that they’re not in the right frame of mind to play basketball” after seeing yet another case of excessive force at the hands of the police.
Several players and league members have spoken publicly about being inside the NBA’s bubble while acts of violence are still taking place outside of it.
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet spoke out on Tuesday:
“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,” VanVleet said. “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. 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.
“I’m just over the media aspect of it. It’s sensationalized — we talk about it every day, that’s all we see, but it just feels like a big pacifier to me.”
Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill said on Monday that players returning to play “took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
“We shouldn’t have even come to this damn place, to be honest,” he told reporters. “I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”