No. 20: Because the Raptors are so much more than a basketball team
They’re a beacon of hope, a catalyst for progress and—oh yeah—a really good team
When the Raptors rolled into Disney World aboard buses marked “Black Lives Matter,” they made it clear they didn’t just want to defend their title as NBA champs. They wanted to champion racial justice, too. Arm in arm, the team kneeled during anthems and used post-game press conferences to talk about police shootings, not three-point shooting. When those symbolic gestures seemed inadequate, star point guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet helped spearhead a temporary league-wide shutdown, which impelled the NBA to establish a $300-million fund for Black youth and inspired a handful of other professional sports to follow suit. The Raptors’ activism also extends to the front office: president Masai Ujiri condemned racism in a powerful statement about his courtside scuffle at the 2019 Finals, while coach Nick Nurse spent the offseason urging American expats to vote. To most people, sports are a welcome distraction from real-world problems. But this year, the Raptors were the opposite of a diversion. They were a beacon of hope, a catalyst of progress and—oh yeah—a really, really good basketball team.