Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, who’s been in Orlando for the duration of the NBA restart, has observed a group of players devastated by this latest act of police violence against a Black American. “I think it has broken the spirit of every player inside this bubble,” Mannix said Tuesday night on NBC Sports Boston. “I know that sounds like hyperbole, but I went to a handful of practices today, I watched it on Zoom calls with the others, and just being around these guys, you could tell that what happened to Jacob Blake has broken them.”
After Blake's shooting Sunday, Mannix said, players are wondering if those concerns were valid. "What it's gotten them to start thinking more and more about was the merit in coming to Orlando to begin with," Mannix said. "As we know, Kyrie Irving spearheaded a phone call amongst nearly 100 players where the message was, 'Guys, don't go. Don't participate in something that could become a distraction.' And one thing Jaylen Brown said was that he felt like this had become a distraction -- that the attention had been taken off the Black Lives Matter movement over the past week or so as the playoffs have picked up."
Andrew Greif: As Celtics, Raptors mull their choice, LAC's Marcus Morris says he'll back their decision. "I’m all for whatever the Celtics and Toronto do. We have to take a stand at some point ... [If] guys don’t want to play, I’m right there with them and I stand for whatever they got going."
Harrison Wind: Michael Malone says his team has had zero talks about potentially boycotting games. "If our players came to me tomorrow and said we don't feel comfortable playing, obviously I would support that."
Mark Medina: Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert on Celtics and Raptors possibly boycotting their game: "It's great to have those conversations. Obviously all the messages we try to put out there and things we do to make an impact are great. But apparently, things aren't changing."
Ira Winderman: Erik Spoelstra, on talk of boycott at Disney, "I"m just going to observe and see what's going to happen over the next 24 hours."
Ben Anderson: Jordan Clarkson said the Jazz haven't had any discussions about sitting out games in protest. But supports any players who choose that. "We've got their back no matter what."
Joe Vardon: Jayson Tatum: ‘If we sit out a game or the rest of the playoffs, we understand how big of an impact that would have.'
Chris Grenham: Jayson Tatum: "We're more than just basketball players, we're people. We have these raw emotions and feelings."
Jared Weiss: Grant Williams on boycott discussions: "We started with the kneeling and we hoped it would send a message. It sent a message, but then it was pushed out...There's something that has to happen."
Jay King: Grant Williams on a potential boycott: “If we’re not playing, what are we doing?” Said part of the discussion is coming up with real action that can hopefully lead to actual change.
Marc J. Spears: One Bucks player said to his knowledge there has been no discussion amongst his teammates about boycotting this afternoons game against the Magic, @TheUndefeated was told.
An assembly, organized by players who are emotionally traumatized by the latest police-involved shooting of an African American that was captured on video, was held Tuesday night at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, sources said, and there were multiple conversations about what actions could be taken throughout the day.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul — the union president — and Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala — first vice president of the union — were in attendance to show support, sources said. Players began reaching out to the committee in recent days, sharing that they’re not in the right frame of mind to play basketball, sources said.
The union’s approach is to educate players on the pros and cons of boycotting games and reassuring them that they would be supported regardless of whatever they decide to do, sources said. There is ongoing dialogue on what more could be done inside the bubble to raise awareness to racial injustice in an effort to enact change and thwart police brutality toward people of color, sources said.
The hearts of players are heavy, with some feeling intense guilt for playing and that they’re providing entertainment that is drowning out the injustices that are plaguing this country, sources said. Players can request to speak with a counselor in the bubble by setting up an appointment in the league’s campus app, but because of confidentiality it’s not known if that resource is being utilized, sources said.
June 19, 2021 | 3:58 pm EDT Update
Eric Walden: Rudy, on the defense: “The problem is if I don’t come and help, we give up layups. … The gameplan was for us to let Terance Mann shoot rather than letting Reggie Jackson or PG get layups. We tried to adjust with full rotations. They played perfectly on almost every possession.”
Ben Anderson: Rudy Gobert got a little testy when asked about what he needs to do when team’s go small.. “I mean I don’t know what do you think we should do?” Clear he doesn’t like the narrative that this is only on him. To his credit, he never waivers in saying defense is a team effort.
Eric Walden: Rudy, on what the Jazz need defensively: “It takes a team effort, it takes five guys to defend. … Everyone on their team raised their level, and it was hard for us to guard them. … Defensively, they were doing a better job than we did with the weapons they had.”
Gerald Bourguet: Monty on the Clippers: “They’re a good team. They’ve shown that they can overcome deficits in the playoffs, for sure. Watching the game last night, you just saw the Clippers impose their will defensively.”
Gerald Bourguet: Monty on Deandre Ayton in a potential small-ball series: “Your team defense has to be at a high level…DA has shown himself to be pretty good in those situations.” Said the eye test shows DA’s capable of forcing smaller guys into tough shots