The NBA’s defending champions sure know how to make an entrance.
As the world watches the NBA enter back-to-work mode and its teams flock to Disney World to isolate as a bubble before the season resumes, the Toronto Raptors decided to use their arrival for a silent, but powerful message: their buses rolled into Orlando with “Black Lives Matter” proudly emblazoned on windows.
“Silence is not an option,” the team stated on Twitter, with photos of their buses at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The players themselves further emphasized their support. A short clip posted on their social media shows slow-motion shots of the buses and disembarking players, many wearing shirts and long-sleeved sweaters depicting the movement’s name with a rising fist.
Fans appreciated the gesture, the latest in a string of visible solidarity made by the champs; Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol and others have already been spotted in the shirts during court practices.
More directly, Raptors team president Masai Ujiri has been at the forefront of fighting against anti-Blackness, calling out the NBA for its biased practices and denouncing the death of George Floyd in an op-ed published in May, making mention of his own experience of racism.
“So many of you are asking: What can I do? There is a sense of helplessness, but that must not paralyze us. Your voice matters, especially when you are a leader or influential figure, and especially if you are white,” Ujiri wrote for the Globe and Mail. “Leaders have to be bold enough to state the obvious and call out racism.”
As influential figures themselves, the Raptors have certainly done their part to heed Ujiri’s call to action. “We the North” supporters sent the team praise online and debunked those reacting to the team’s bold looks with “all lives matter” replies.
Other teams entering the Disney bubble have also used their appearances to speak out against police brutality.
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