The morning was a typical morning for the Toronto Raptors.
It started early, as it normally does, with meetings, film sessions, and walkthroughs. This is a team that has no room for error right now. They need to focus on basketball. They’re 1-5 and they need to start getting on track. Tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns marks the start of a West Coast road trip that may decide which direction this Raptors team is heading.
But then reality struck. That peaceful morning gave way to an afternoon and evening few people will ever forget. Washington D.C. became the sight of an insurrection the likes of which have not been seen since the end of the Civil War. Hundreds of President Donald Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol building hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 Election.
Once practice ended Raptors coach Nick Nurse returned home and flicked on the television to see what was transpiring in his nation’s capital.
“[It’s] really disturbing,” he said. “Disturbing, disgusting, incredulous, sad. I think it’s sad. I think this just seems to not stop, and it seems to not improve.
“I can’t believe they could do that almost anywhere, let alone the Capitol building,” he continued. “Never in your wildest dreams do you think people could you just walk in there and start walking down the hallways and do what they were doing. It seems, like, unfathomable to me.”
When the team reconvened at the arena hours later Nurse said he went to speak to the team’s leadership. He said he spoke to Kyle Lowry about the events of the day and how the team should act. Lowry promptly journeyed over to the home locker room to speak to Chris Paul, the Suns’ 34-year-old guard.
As of the end of Nurse’s press conference, there was no indication of what the two teams will do for tonight’s game. In Miami, the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat took a knee during the anthem and released a joint statement condemning the acts of violence in Washington as well as the decision not to prosecute the police who shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc.
As for the game tonight, the Raptors have become all too accustomed to playing with heavy hearts. They were leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement when the NBA returned after the killing of George Floyd and they were among the first teams to discuss a potential strike after Blake was shot seven times by police in August. They’ve learned how to deal with days such as these.
“We’ve been in kind of a multitude of strange situations here over the last, I don’t know, year,” Nurse said. “There’s some times you go out there and the ball goes up and you get lost in the action of the game and you’re able to kind of compartmentalize it and play. We’ve done it most of the time that way fairly differently. Then we get back to the real world when it’s all over.”