Celtics, Raptors Reportedly 'Remain Deep in Discussions' About Strike for Game 1

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) moves the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors reportedly "remain deep in discussions" to refuse to play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, currently scheduled for Thursday, in protest, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated

A. Sherrod Blakley of NBC Sports Boston reported both sides are "leaning" toward not playing.

The news comes after Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play Wednesday's Game 5 against the Orlando Magic.

The possible strikes are being organized to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday in which officers fired multiple times into Blake's back. Blake is in stable condition but paralyzed after a bullet damaged his spinal cord.

"We're tired of the killings and the injustice," Bucks guard George Hill said, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

Celtics center Enes Kanter showed his support for the decision on social media.

The Celtics and Raptors had come together in a players-only meeting Tuesday night to discuss a potential strike, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse explained the reasoning:

"Boycotting the game has come up for them as a way to try to demand a little more action. That's really what they want. I think there's enough attention and not quite enough action, and that's what I can sense from the discussions, is their disappointment. Like, 'Man, how can we get something to change, like now?' We need something to change, not just attention on the problem. We need a plan of action."

"I know it's not that simple," Raptors guard Fred VanVleet told reporters Tuesday. "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."

"There's more important things than basketball right now," Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. Teammate Jaylen Brown also spoke at length about the shooting and systemic racism, saying, "People post my jersey all the time, No. 7, and every time I look at my jersey now, what I see is a Black man getting shot seven times."

Several NBA players, including Kyrie Irving, had pushed for players not to return for the restart in Orlando, Florida because it would distract from the ongoing protests against racial injustice, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

When players did return, they continued protests with social justice messages on their jerseys along with "Black Lives Matter" on the courts.