VanVleet explains his decision to play on despite the pandemic and unrest over social and racial issues


(WTVO/WQRF) — Basketball and family have always come firsdt in Fred VanVleet’s life. The Rockford native has had to juggle the two more than ever with concerns of the coronavirus hanging over his head.

A little over a week ago VanVleet and his Toronto Raptors teammates reported for Fort Myers, Florida to continue workouts for the restart of the NBA season. They’ve isolated on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University. During the past week more and more NBA players have tested positive for the virus. VanVleet said in a media conference call Monday that he’s placing his faith in the Raptors’ organization right now.

“I think for the most part I just put the trust in the organization and understand I don’t think that they would put us in extreme risk. I trust the NBA so…..that’s where my trust lies right now. Hopefully they prove me right and not wrong, and I understand that Around the league their have been some positive tests, and they’re trying to get ahead of that now, so once we’re actually in the bubble (in Orlando) hopefully everything will be okay.”

VanVleet has a partner and two young children, so naturally their safety is a concern. They’re not with him now in Florida, but they could join VanVleet in Orland if the Raptors make it through the first round of the playoffs next month.

“That was one of the reasons why I did decide to go (to Florida) is because they’re not here if that makes sense,” said VanVleet. “I’m here by myself for awhile and I still will be able to make that decision if they’re able to come.” “I’ll have some sense of what it’s like and what things are like and how risky or dangerous it is.”

There are some NBA players who have decided not to play out the rest of the season. VanVleet has no problem with that.

“I definitely respect guys that took the stand to sit out for whatever reason, but my choice was to come play, and I’m not right and they’re not wrong it’s just a personal choice for everybody.”

Another consideration that every NBA player is facing is whether or not to play ball while the nation is going through upheaval over social and racial issues. VanVleet says that’s always at the forefront of his mind and it’s not easy to play in light of what’s going on.

“It sucks. It sucks man and it’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. So I think, I mean, look obviously we all know the right thing to do is to not play. To take a stand. To morally, yes that makes sense but life goes on. We’re all young, black guys and none of us want to give any money back. I don’t think that we should and I think that money can be used in many different ways. This is not going to end this summer regardless for these next couples months. This issue racial injustice, social injustice, police brutality, all these things are not ending any time soon, and so our fight is long term, so that was part of my decision. If the league or more of my guys would have come together and said we don’t want to play, I would have sat out as well.”

“I trust that my heart is in the right place and that I’m doing enough to really make change.”

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