Celtics, Raptors considering boycott of Thursday’s Game 1 to ‘demand more attention’ after Jacob Blake shooting

The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have discussed boycotting Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse confirmed that players from both teams met Tuesday night to discuss their options, which included a boycott.

“Boycotting the game has come up to them to demand a little more attention,” Nurse said. “It is ongoing discussions. I think it is one (on) the table. There’s some other ideas on the table as well.”

Nurse said he heard a couple players mention leaving the bubble, near Orlando, Florida, where they have been sequestered since July as the NBA restarted its season amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said players from both teams will continue their discussions.

Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam did not want to discuss details, but said, “We’re all in this together, and that’s a feeling that I have. Everyone is focused on agenda wanting to make a change.”

Siakam added he did not know what the right thing to do is because “We came here for a reason and using our platform and wanting to send a message and raise awareness and bring a change but it feels like we’re stuck.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he hasn’t heard a lot of talk from his team about not playing though some meetings have been players-only.

“Each individual we support 110 percent,” Stevens said. “This is not easy from the standpoint of being down here, and we totally understand everybody’s reaction to what’s going on outside of here to do more and desire to not play or desire to leave. It’s up to each individual. We’re here to support them … It’s bigger than basketball.”

Fred VanVleet (Photo: Kevin C. Cox, pool photo, USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto guard Fred VanVleet on Tuesday raised the possibility of a boycott during his interview with reporters.

“What are we willing to give up?” VanVleet said Tuesday, suggesting his teammates talked about the possibility of a boycott. “Do we actually give a (expletive) about what’s going on? Or is it just cool to wear BLM on the backdrop or wear a T-shirt? What does that really mean? Is it really doing anything? I don’t have the answers for you today.”

Boston’s Jaylen Brown was disturbed by the shooting and offered thoughtful comments, asking what ultimately was a rhetorical question.

“The question that I would like (to) ask is does America think Black people and people of color are uncivilized savages and naturally unjust? Or are we (a) product of the environment we participate in?

“That’s the question I would like to ask to America and America has proved its answer over and over again.”

NBA boycotts are rare. In 1959, Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor boycotted a game in protest over hotel segregation in Charleston, West Virginia.

Players also considered boycotting the 1964 All-Star Game, but that was over union issues and not social justice; and in 2014, when racist comments by former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling became public.

Follow USA TODAY Sports NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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