Raptors all business during NBA restart training at Alico Arena

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Alico Arena on FGCU’s campus. Credit: WINK News.

The Toronto Raptors are spending their summer training for the NBA season restart in Lee County.

We spoke to the Raptors about what their experience here has been like Monday as well as changes that could be made to their uniforms.

The defending NBA champions are living in a hotel in Fort Myers and riding a bus a little further south to practice at FGCU’s Alico Arena. And that’s all the Raptors are doing right now.

“No freedom, no freedom at all,” shooting guard Fred VanVleet said with a laugh during a press interview.

“Obey the rules, and we go to the gym and do their practices and come back,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said.

VanVleet and Ujiri both admit these are challenging times, and basketball is their only normal.

“It’s not the most ideal situation, but it’s kind of the times that we are in,” VanVleet said. “It has not been an ideal year for anybody.”

The Raptors are focused on staying healthy and gearing up for the restart of the season in the Orlando area.

“As far as those eight games, I mean, I’m going to assume we’ll play them all to win,”: VanVleet said.

“They’re going to be awesome,” Masai said. “They want to work out; there is anxiousness to come back and play. They have been away from the game for a while, and I think it’ll be good to see the whole league back together.”

The Raptors have TV and social media, so the organization and the players are very aware of Florida’s spike in COVID-19 cases. They are also very aware of the social justice movement sweeping the nation.

And the NBA might allow players to put messages on their jerseys, such as “I can’t breathe,” the last words heard spoken from George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody in May.

“Me personally, I have not picked what I wanna put on my back yet,” VanVleet said. “I have a couple of important people that I need to call.”

“I think it’s a time to show the world that black lives do matter, and they are a tough conversations to be had,” said.

VanVleet told us his family is not with him in Lee County. He said he will consider bringing them to the Orlando area, only if Florida’s COVID-19 situation improves.

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