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The Toronto Raptors drove their bus to Florida for the NBA restart with their bus emblazoned with the Black Lives Matter slogan.

Fred VanVleet trudged from the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Naples, out the double doors and into the stifling Florida humidity. The Toronto Raptors guard squinted, his eyes adjusting to the sunlight as the words came into focus.

He saw “Black Lives Matter” in large, white letters across each side of two buses that had arrived to take the Raptors to the NBA’s campus at Walt Disney World Resort.

“It was dope,” VanVleet said. “They didn’t even tell us they were doing that.”

The defending NBA champions were sending a message as they entered the bubble on July 9.

Along the three-hour trek north, VanVleet said, the buses passed through neighborhoods with manicured lawns featuring signs endorsing President Donald Trump, who called the Black Lives Matter movement a “symbol of hate” earlier this month.

“I was looking out the window like, ‘Oh s—,'” VanVleet said. “That was the first time I really thought about it. They probably weren’t going to be too happy with this bus. I thought that was a big, big gesture for sure by the team.”

After some considered not playing, many NBA players chose to enter the bubble in large part because they saw an opportunity to use their platform to amplify their message. Although they are still determining how to best promote their cause, the past few weeks have seen an increased push from players, coaches and the league leading up to Thursday night’s restart opener inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

With play resuming, players have been determined that these discussions about racial inequality and police brutality against Black people won’t fade.

“Our performance on the court is a distraction,” VanVleet said. “People love sports, and it takes you away from whatever you got going on. It’s going to be our job and the league’s job to give you the entertainment and still give you the message at the same time. …

“We have a lot of great players and great leadership. We’re going to keep finding great ways to get our message across.”

Read the rest of this story here: https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29555143/nba-restart-how-nba-bubble-…

Source of original article: Black Star News (www.blackstarnews.com).
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