The NBA’s reigning champions rolled into Walt Disney World on Thursday ahead of the league’s restart plan on Thursday, and delivered a strong message in the process.
The Toronto Raptors pulled into the Disney campus in a pair of buses outfitted with “Black Lives Matter” written across the sides. Several players had T-shirts with the same phrase on them, too.
The statement is just the latest from the NBA world since George Floyd’s death in police custody in May — which sparked widespread protests and movements for racial and social justice across the country. Countless athletes, both in the NBA and elsewhere, have spoken up and joined in on the cause, too.
The NBA is scheduled to resume play on July 30 after what will be a more-than four month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All 22 teams that are participating are expected to be in the bubble by the end of the night, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, though certain players and coaches will be arriving later for various reasons.
The league has several plans in place to help players speak out about social issues during play in Florida. They are going to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the sidelines of all three courts that will be used, and players are allowed to change their last name on their jerseys to a pre-approved social justice message. Several players have already informed the league of their new name choices, which vary from phrases like, “Equality,” “Freedom,” “Vote” and more.
Though the Raptors’ message on Thursday was delivered loud and clear, it’s sure to be just one of many to come throughout the rest of the NBA season.
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