Raptors’ Fred VanVleet gets real honest about why players agreed to 2019-20 season restart
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet revealed the inner struggles of the decision-making to go ahead with the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season — one that was contested by a few players. The Raptors point guard admitted there was some pause about the optics of playing amid the civil unrest caused by racism and police brutality, but it wasn’t enough to stop the players from cashing in on their checks:
“It sucks. It sucks, man. It’s terrible timing. But that’s been 2020 for us,” VanVleet told Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “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. None of us want to give any money back. I don’t think that we should.
“I think that money can be used in a number of different ways. This is not going to end this summer regardless, or over the next couple of months. This issue, racial injustice, social injustice, police brutality, all these things are not ending anytime soon.”
VanVleet’s answer was as honest as they come — the big elephant in the room was the hovering fact that there was simply too much money at stake (for owners and players) to let this season go to waste.
However, the Raptors’ dynamo admitted had the majority voted to sit out, he wouldn’t have fought to keep on playing:
“Our fight was long term,” said VanVleet. “That was part of my decision. But if the league, or more of my guys would have come together and said we didn’t want to play, I would have sat out as well. I wouldn’t have even fought it. I think most of us decided to play. It’s something we’ll have to live with. I trust that my heart’s in the right place and I’m doing enough to make change.”‘
It seems there was enough pressure to sit out the restart of the season, but not nearly enough to warrant a boycott. Thus far, players like Davis Bertans, Trevor Ariza, and Avery Bradley, among others, have chosen not to take part in the resumption at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
VanVleet, who signed a two-year, $18 million deal at the start of the 2018-19 season, is bound for a much loftier payday at the end of this campaign.