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Raptors, Celtics mull boycott protest over police shooting

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Orlando (AFP)

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Wednesday his players and members of the Boston Celtics have discussed a possible boycott of their Eastern Conference semi-final opener following the police shooting of a black man in Wisconsin.

Nurse said the option of a boycott was "on the table" as players look at ways of protesting the shooting of African-American Jacob Blake on Sunday.

Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha as he attempted to get into a car containing his three children, sparking protests that have left two people dead.

Nurse said during a conference call on Wednesday that Raptors and Celtics players had raised the prospect of a boycott during talks on Tuesday.

"Boycotting the game has come up to them to demand a little more attention," Nurse said. "It is ongoing discussions. I think it is one idea on the table. There are some other ideas on the table as well."

Boston's Marcus Smart confirmed the boycott discussions.

"We need to try something different," Smart said.

"It has been talked about, but we haven't confirmed anything. It's definitely in the back of our minds to not play."

The NBA's coronavirus-halted season resumed last month in a bubble at Orlando against the backdrop of protests following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd during his arrest by police in Minneapolis in May.

NBA teams have knelt in protest during the pre-match playing of the US national anthem while the words "Black Lives Matter" have been painted onto each court staging games in Florida.

Blake's shooting on Sunday has been greeted with disgust by players and coaches across the league.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the shooting was "horrifying".

"We talked about it in our team meeting," Stevens said.

"Our thoughts are with Jacob Blake and his family and obviously that video was horrifying, awful. To think of three kids being in that car. It's ridiculous.

"Everybody is shaken... there's a reason why the coaches, players and everyone here has chosen to emphasize social justice and equality.

"These are hard times. With the pandemic going on, with this constant wave of inequality -- it's maddening."

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers contrasted the shooting with the fearful rhetoric at this week's Republican Party convention.

"All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear," Rivers said.

"We're the ones getting killed. We're the ones getting shot. We're the ones that are denied to live in certain communities.

"We've been hung, we've been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It's amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back."

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