Taking a break from being bored at a hotel, Fred VanVleet shared some insight about what it’s like inside the Toronto Raptors’ bubble in Fort Myers, Florida.
While he trusts the Raptors and the NBA are taking all the necessary precautions, VanVleet admits that he was a little on edge prior to arriving in Florida, where more than 18,000 new cases of the virus were recorded this weekend alone.
“I’m pretty concerned,” VanVleet said. “It sounded good, you know, a month or two ago. Not so much right before we got ready to leave. I just put the trust in the organization… Hopefully they prove me right and not wrong.”
VanVleet says he was among the first five people that arrived to the team hotel, which is open only for the Raptors, last week. Leaving his family behind, the 26-year-old will go weeks, if not months without seeing them.
“I’ve been gone a week, I miss my kids already.”
With individual workouts taking place at the Florida Gulf Coast University, VanVleet says his routine begins by getting tested and having his vitals checked. Following basketball, he’s been playing a lot of video games, sleeping a bunch, and… well not much else.
But of course, the virus is not the only crisis affecting the United States and the rest of the world right now.
VanVleet spoke passionately about the Black Lives Matter movement, vowing to organize with his teammates to use their platform and pushing his team to “do more.”
“It’s on our mind every day,” VanVleet said. “We’re really doing work behind the scenes, not just for now, because it’s cool on social media to post ‘Black Lives Matter,’ something that’s going to last for years and years to come and trying to make real change.”
While the Raptors prepare to defend their championship, it’s clear that a part of VanVleet is conflicted about playing.
“It sucks. It sucks, man. It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us,” he said.
“Obviously, we all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but life goes on. We’re all young Black guys and none of us want to give any money back, and I don’t think that we should. I think that money can be used in many different ways.”
The NBA, for its part, has big plans to continue to shine a light on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Players will be allowed to replace their last name on their jerseys with a statement on social justice, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
VanVleet likes the idea but hasn’t picked what he’ll put on the back of his jersey yet. He says he’s going to consult his high school coach, who is an African-American studies teacher, as well as his step dad, before committing to something.
The NBA also plans to paint “Black Lives Matter” inside both sidelines on each court used when the league restarts, ESPN reports.
“This is not going to end this summer, regardless, or in these next couple of months. The issue of racial injustice, social injustice, police brutality, all of these things are not ending anytime soon. So our fight is long term. So that was part of my decision [to return to play].
“But if the league or more of my guys would have came together and said we didn’t want to play, I would have sat out as well and fought it.”
“I trust that my heart’s in the right place and I’m doing enough to really make a change.”