The 2019-20 NBA season resumed with Utah Jazz players and coaches and New Orleans pelicans kneeling while playing The Star-Spangled Banner. The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers followed suit in the second game, and expect this to be the trend.
The Toronto Raptors will play their first game in four months against the Lakers on Saturday, and while there is a lot of excitement in their quest to repeat as champions, there is an increased focus on the minds of the players. As part of their continued efforts for further social justice movements, particularly around Black Lives Matter, the Raptors will also kneel during the anthem.
“It was great. I think it was fantastic,” Raptors’ top guard Kyle Lowry said of the events on a conference call Thursday. “It set the tone for what we are down here for. These four teams, including the coaches and the their organizations, I think it was nice to have done it in unison. “
“For us to be able to do it, and for our league to help us, the players and all of us are one. Yes, we are all competitors and yes, we want to fight each other, but in the end we are trying to get social justice and things have changed and continue the conversation and do more to make sure the next generation doesn’t do it I don’t have to go through what we went through. “
Bird of prey coach Nick Nurse expects the team to kneel for both national anthems and Canada and the United States. As Nurse points out, although most of the attention is focused on the protests going on in America, there are also similar problems with police brutality and systemic racism in Canada.
“It’s not about countries, not about borders. For me, it’s about continuing to shed some light on how we should do better in the area of police brutality, we must do better in the area of systemic racism. It’s not just Canada or America, there are many places. So we treat it like a long song, “said Nurse.
For Lowry, he hopes to deepen the conversation about inequality with respect to education, which is why he will wear an “education reform” on the back of the shirt. Lowry grew up in a low-income neighborhood and didn’t have the same resources and opportunities as those in richer settings. There are also other problems with education, such as streaming in Canada, which disproportionately disadvantaged black students.
“Start with youth. The type of neighborhood I grew up in doesn’t have the same education as the kids from the suburbs and other more upscale neighborhoods. They don’t get tax money, they don’t have the opportunity other kids do. I think it starts there, starts with educating young people, making them understand what it is about, ”said Lowry.
As for Saturday’s anthem, Lowry says his mind will be on all lives lost due to police brutality and the biggest goal at hand towards creating a fairer and more peaceful future for his children.
“Justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, all these black humans, black men, black women killed in cold blood. That stuff hits hard. I have two small children and I hate that this happens to them, to me, to someone from my family or to someone I know. I couldn’t imagine tackling it, and I think it will all be played in my heart, “said Lowry.
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