Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
The Toronto Raptors reportedly held discussions about playing their home games in Louisville, Kentucky, during the 2020-21 season, but decided against it after their players expressed discomfort playing in Louisville following the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in March.
Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported earlier this week that Louisville was being considered as a temporary home for the Raptors next season provided the COVID-19 pandemic prevents them from playing their home games in Toronto.
WDRB’s Rick Bozich reported Friday that sources indicated discussions between the Raptors and KC Yum! Center officials broke down because of the players’ feelings regarding Taylor’s killing and “the social unrest that followed.”
The 26-year-old Taylor was shot and killed by police officers in her Louisville home after they entered the apartment on a search warrant.
According to Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Derrick Bryson Taylor of the New York Times, the police were issued a no-knock warrant to search Taylor’s home, which meant they didn’t have to identify themselves. The police were given permission to search the house on suspicion that a man suspected of selling drugs had used Taylor’s apartment to receive packages.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot at the police using a gun he was licensed to carry. Walker said the police did not identify themselves before breaking the door down and he thought they were intruders. The police, who said they did identify themselves, fired at least 15 shots into the apartment, and five hit Taylor.
Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison, who was fired following Taylor’s death, was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment last month for shots he fired that entered a neighboring apartment. However, no officers were directly charged for Taylor’s killing.
The NBA finished the 2019-20 season inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, but with the league preferring teams to play in their home arenas during the 2020-21 season, it could create an issue for the Raptors.
MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays were forced to play their games in Buffalo, New York, during the 2020 season since travel restrictions in Canada precluded other teams from entering the country.
If the Raptors face a similar situation, they will have to find a temporary home within the United States to play their home games during the 2020-21 campaign.
It isn’t yet clear when the 2020-21 NBA season will begin, but ESPN reported that the NBA Board of Governors is meeting Friday and plans to discuss the possibility of starting the season on Christmas Day.