You can add “vaccine encouragement” to the list of things Dalano Banton has accomplished in his first season with the Toronto Raptors.
Banton, who became the first Toronto-born Raptors draft pick earlier this summer, has been a fan favourite and popular figure, particularly in his home community of Rexdale.
So when asked if he was encouraging any of his local friends to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to watch him play this year, Banton said the process started as soon as he was selected by Toronto.
“Oh, 100%,” Banton said at Tuesday’s practice when asked if he’d been encouraging people to be vaccinated. “A lot of people come to the games, and a lot of people have been vaccinated. Even before the season started, when I first got drafted, they knew how it was going to be going into it; people got vaccinated before the season had started.”
“They wanted to be at games and they didn’t want to miss the first one,” he shared. “Basically, everyone [of my friends and family] are vaccinated now, to be honest.”
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Banton’s first game was one to remember personally, as he hit a half-court shot for his first NBA basket.
He has played in all 24 games for the 11-13 Raptors this season, averaging 4.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14.5 minutes a night.
But he’s also spent time with the Raptors 905 G League squad, getting in additional reps at some of their practices and a trio of games so far.
Despite occasionally playing double duty, Banton said he’s embracing the opportunities in front of him.
“I’m not getting tired of it,” Banton said. “I’m just kind of trusting in the process that they have for me, trusting in the development of the Raptors and the plan they have for me. I’ve seen it countless times with guys who came before me.”