Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the 2019-20 regular season has passed.
His opinion on the matter hasn’t changed.
“It sucks,” VanVleet said in a conference call Monday of his choice to return to the court during a pandemic and a fight for social justice. “It’s terrible timing. But that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense. But life goes on. We’re all young, Black guys. None of us want to give any money back. I don’t think that we should. I think that money can be used in a number of different ways.
“This is not going to end this summer regardless, or over the next couple of months. This issue, racial injustice, social injustice, police brutality, all these things are not ending anytime soon. Our fight was long term. That was part of my decision.
“But if the league, or more of my guys would have come together and said we didn’t want to play, I would have sat out as well. I wouldn’t have even fought it. I think most of us decided to play. It’s something we’ll have to live with. I trust that my heart’s in the right place and I’m doing enough to make change.”
The Raptors have been in Florida, training at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, as the rest of the NBA prepares to convene in Orlando by July 9.
Raptors team president Masai Ujiri is the only Black team president in the NBA. He said it’s not lost on him, his players or peers what hangs in the balance in the coming weeks.
“First of all, this is a really interesting time,” Ujiri said. “Black lives do matter, and we’re going really going to use this platform, I think. It’s continuous right? This is something that I don’t think is going to stop. Because, so there’s so much, so, so much to be addressed. We have had really good discussions and meetings.
“I think you saw what Adam [commissioner Silver] said on the league level. I think that’s, that’s first and foremost of what the league would do. I think we’re concentrating on a few things. What does the NBA do long term, in terms of what resources are they going to put into this? I think there’s the discussion of Black executives and Black positions in the NBA. And then there’s a discussion of how you use the campus at Orlando, to really show the world that we can be a voice, [that the] players can be a voice.”