Raptors’ Norman Powell says boycott being discussed: ‘Taking a knee is not getting it done’

Raptors guards Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
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The Raptors just swept the Nets. It was Toronto’s first sweep in franchise history. The Raptors have now won playoff series in five straight seasons, the NBA’s longest-active streak. Toronto advances to a highly anticipated second-round series against the Celtics.

But the Raptors aren’t in a celebratory mood.

Toronto guards Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet – like many people, including NBA players  – are upset about police shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the back.

Bucks guard George Hill put it most strongly: “We shouldn’t have came to this damn place.” That revived discussion of players boycotting the league’s resumption at Disney World.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet:

Blake Murphy of The Athletic:

VanVleet: “What are we willing to give up? Do we actually give a [f—] about what’s going on, or is it just cool to have Black Lives Matter on the backdrop or wearing a T-shirt?…I’m in a different place today, emotionally speaking.”

Powell: “The police officers that are involved in these instances aren’t scared…the taxpayers are paying for these administrative leaves…Ain’t nothing gonna change (until we) stand up and demand things. Until that is done, ain’t [s—] gonna change.”

Racism and police holding too much power are major problems.

Which is why they won’t be solved overnight.

Is progress being made quickly enough? No. Of course not. Anything longer than an instant fix is too long. That’s frustrating, and I understand why Powell and VanVleet feel this way.

But it’s important to keep perspective. Things are changing for the better. Look at the history of racism in this country – from slavery to segregation to modern times. It’s trending in the right direction.

There’s still further to go, and the current movement of protest will accelerate progress. People are paying greater attention to these issues and working harder to address them.

Perhaps, NBA players placed outsized important on kneeling during the national anthem, wearing corporate-approved social-justice messages on their jerseys and speaking up during press conferences. Those are nice steps for raising awareness, which leads to more meaningful change. But they’re not suddenly going to stop police violence.

Again, that’s frustrating. Powell and VanVleet appear to be exploring how they can channel that anger into a next step. We should all frequently evaluate what we can do to make the world a better place. I salute Powell and VanVleet doing that.

Is a boycott the answer? It would cost players a lot of money – money they can use for whatever is important to them. Beyond that…

The frustrating truth remains that these problems are so deep-seated, they won’t be solved immediately