Title: Why the Raptors and Celtics are considering a walkout ahead of Game 1
Date: August 26, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors considering a strike in Orlando, and why players are feeling it’s a necessary next step.
Pascal Siakam is struggling for answers, on a small wooden chair inside the NBA’s bubble in Orlando and inside his own head. The weight of the two days since police in Kenosha, Wis., shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back is palpable. The weight is not just that of another Black man being a victim of police brutality. It is that here Siakam is again, answering questions about the trauma of seeing events like that unfold regularly, and being asked to be a voice of change while an NBA relaunch designed in part to effect that very change no longer feels like enough.
“It’s unfortunate, man, just seeing (it) every day. I think for us, we just wanted to make a difference, wanted to make a change, and seeing that shows that things are the same,” Siakam said. “It makes you question have you made the (right) decision or not, or whatever the case might be. And for me, it hurts. It hurts to see that. And like I said, I didn’t want to watch the video. Literally, like, I’m sitting here, and I’m sure you guys probably have questions, but I’m really not trying to answer anything. My head is not really at that. We came here for a reason and (are) using our platform and wanting to send a message and hopefully bring awareness and bring a change, but I don’t know. It just feels like we’re stuck. It feels like we’re stuck. It feels like things are not changing. It feels like we’re not doing anything productive, basically. That’s how it feels.”
Siakam said he did not watch the video of Blake being shot because he didn’t need to, and the memory of watching George Floyd being killed by police in Minneapolis is still fresh in his mind. It was an event that led many players to protest and, as the NBA formulated a plan for a COVID-19-compliant relaunch, one that led players to insist the resumption of the league be used conscientiously.