Kyle Lowry: NBA Players Considered Bubble Exit If Owners Didn't Back Initiatives

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2020

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) reacts before playing against the Brooklyn Nets in 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

Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said players gave "serious consideration" to leaving the Walt Disney World bubble if the league, owners and teams didn't agree to support their social justice initiatives.

"That was a very, very serious consideration," Lowry said, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

"I think we (the Raptors and other NBA players) were seriously considering leaving," he explained, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. "I think that would have been in serious consideration [if not for the initiatives that the NBA and NBPA committed to]."

The NBA and its Players Association released a joint statement Friday that outlined the various endeavors the two sides will work toward during the ongoing fight against systemic racism and police brutality.

Serge Ibaka echoed his teammate's comments, saying "We were close. We were very close," per Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.

While the players on the Milwaukee Bucks were the first to decide they would sit out a game in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported the Raptors held a team meeting Tuesday to discuss sitting out Game 1 of their second-round series against the Boston Celtics.

"We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything, but I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody," Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said.

Milwaukee's Wednesday game against the Orlando Magic was ultimately postponed, as were the rest of the day's slate and games on Thursday and Friday.

Players held meetings and eventually decided to resume the season. Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks reported: "Many players believed that leaving the bubble would take away their platform and felt that real change and awareness can come from working in Orlando on this big stage."

The joint statement the league and Players Association released outlined three specific initiatives, the first of which established a social justice coalition with players, coaches and governors to advocate for voting, police reform and more.

The second initiative called for governors to work with election officials to convert arenas into voting hubs for the 2020 election, while the third called for increased advertising spots during playoff games to raise awareness of societal issues and voting opportunities.

On the court, Lowry's Raptors lost Game 1 to the Celtics on Sunday 112-94.