“Bigger Than Basketball” Extends North of the Border Too


It has now been over a week without the NBA and Raptors basketball. In summary, it has been tough. In theory, the Raptors would have played three games since their win in Utah. The only game I will be watching today instead will be Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

It is times like this where we realize how much we appreciate the game.  After watching an emotional interview with Vince Carter getting teary-eyed, something felt different.  When will the NBA be back? What will it look like when it is back? At this time, news releases hourly regarding what’s next and truth be told only time will tell.  The CDC has recommended gatherings of 50+ should be suspended for the next eight weeks.  With that being said, the NBA would not be back until roughly June.

The NBA Demonstrates an Act of Leadership

In hindsight, Adam Silver made the right decision. The NBA is an extremely progressive league, clearly demonstrated leadership, as every professional league in North America followed after. It took one player for a league-wide suspension. What was tough about the situation was that Utah’s Rudy Gobert — who guarded Serge Ibaka closely on March 9th — was the one who tested positive. Fortunately, all Raptors have come back negative of COVID-19.  Nonetheless, players have been pressed to self-isolate themselves for at least two weeks. The tireless Raptors continue to work while going through this, as we have seen with Serge Ibaka and his at-home workouts.


League-wide Heroics

This suspension on the league has caused a ripple effect across North America.  Thousands of employees rely on their game-night shifts to help fund rent, amenities and health care.  This suspension put many employees in a position of uncertainty, including here in Toronto.  With that, Kevin Love realized that this truly was bigger than basketball. This was not a lockout– this was real life hitting the globe and creating circumstances that feel movie-like. Kevin Love wanted to ensure the staff involved with the daily operations on game day were secure and has donated $100,000 to support Cleveland’s staff.

The heroics continued, as we saw Rudy Gobert, Zion Williamson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin and many others follow along.  Toronto being nothing short of spectacular has also joined this movement.  MLSE has committed to paying its employees during this time. Beyond this, leaders of franchises with MLSE — including Masai Ujiri and Brendan Shanahan — have started the Toronto Team fund. This fund will support employees within MLSE who make the game experience possible.

 “Being a good teammate means looking out for our neighbors, friends and the people we work with. Through this fund, we all pledge to be good teammates to our arena and support staff. We want to be here for them, the way they are always here for us.” -Masai Ujiri, President, Toronto Raptors

Although the league is on pause, we can remain optimistic that the league will be back, and the Larry O’Brien will be raised. The 2019-2020 NBA season has been nothing short of amazing, and we all want to see a finish. So while we practice social distancing, enjoy the highlights, stay indoors, and remember, the Toronto Raptors are your defending champions.

Follow us on Twitter @RaptorsLead for the latest Raptors news and insight.


About Uday Saluja

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