Practice news & notes: Ujiri, Raptors speak on Monday’s tragedy; VanVleet and Anunoby practice

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Tuesday’s practice session was on the somber side as the team continued to process and discuss Monday’s tragedy in the city. While there was a fair amount of basketball talk still, it was nothing that wasn’t covered in yesterday’s practice notes and the coverage in general since Game 4. We’ll just dive right into the statements, and you can skip to the end for the usual bulleted notes, including some injury on-updates.

Statements on Monday’s tragedy

Raptors president Masai Ujiri delivered a statement to media on Monday’s tragic events in Toronto, then answered a few questions. You can see the video here. Select quotes are below:

Masai Ujiri statement:

It was very unfortunate in our city. Our prayers go out to all the families involved. I think it’s a very telling time with what’s going on around the world, but I think for who our city is and who we are here I really feel strongly that it’s a time for us to come together and support one another and not be afraid. It’s very important not to be afraid of these things and try and move on from it and support each other as much as we can, but believing in our city because I think the strength of our city is diversity.

It’s very touching for our city because everywhere I go, I brag about this city. It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world. These things happen, it’s happened to the best of other cities and the best of other places. I think we must continue to live our lives and not be afraid. But it’s touching for this to happen to our city. I hope people can deal with it in their own way. We use family. We use sports. We use many things to deal with these kinds of situations, but I hope people can use various way, but know they have us — the diversity and happiness of our city to deal with this.

Masai Ujiri on the perspective something like this puts things in:

It puts life in perspective. What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk or see people that experienced this. Everything we do gets put on the side, I think. For my drive home, all I thought about was that and the heaviness of it and how you should come out of this. The next thing I thought was I still know who we are, I still know what this city is and I still know that those kind of things can never really put this kind of city down.

I hate to say it like this. I fear nothing and no one. To me, I always say 98 per cent of the people around the world are unbelievable people. There is a certain percentage that are maybe not and have problems. We should work on making those people better…You could be anywhere in this world these days. Things happen. We just have to be a little bit aware. We have to care about each other more. Care about your neighbour. Know who your neighbour is. Know who people around you are a little bit more and show affection to these people. Travelling around the world, I never look back because I just feel like I’m a person of the world. You belong to everywhere in the world. That’s what God has given us.

Kyle Lowry and Dwane Casey also made statements ahead of their media availability.

Kyle Lowry statement:

Before we start, I’m not a social media guy, but I want to send my thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of yesterday’s tragedy. It’s a tough time. I just want to send my thoughts and prayers. It’s tough. Real tough.

It’s sickening. It’s just something where my kids could have been there when they’re older, you know what I mean? It’s just a sad time. A sad day. It’s kind of hard to put into words how you feel, it’s just tough.

Kyle Lowry on the video of the arrest:

I think if he would have been in America, he would have been shot up a few times. But I think the police, he could see that, I don’t know. I don’t know. You’ve gotta wait for his report to come out. But I think in America he would have definitely been shot up. It’s great. Kudos to that officer. I’m sure some people wish that officer would have done damage to the man, but yeah, not my job. I’m glad that’s not my job. That’s why those guys, the police officers, they protect and serve to make judgment calls.He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.

Dwane Casey:

It’s very unfortunate. Just this weekend, I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, and how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Unfortunately, there was the incident yesterday. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families affected. It does put things into perspective. There are things much bigger than sport right now in the world, and right now in Toronto. Hopefully, though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve, some joy in lives, perhaps lighten things up a little bit from the incident yesterday which was very, very unfortunate. It just lets you know that the world we live in is always changing and it could be here, anywhere in the world. We always have to be diligent and understand those things can happen. We pray for the victims and the families.

The Raptors plan to do something tomorrow to honor the victims, though it was not immediately clear what that will be.


  • I’ll be posting some updates/quotes/T-shirt news/etc regularly on my Instagram story throughout the playoffs.
  • Fred VanVleet participated in practice, which is a good sign. He was listed on the injury report as doubtful coming out of Game 4 and is expected to be upgraded to questionable at some point, though he’s truly day-to-day in the sense that a determination won’t be made until the team sees how his shoulder responds and feels Wednesday. VanVleet’s been able to shoot again for a while now but his range of motion is still a bit limited and there will be risk of re-injury for a couple of weeks still
  • OG Anunoby also participated in practice and was hanging around afterward without ice on his ankle (usually injured played kind of disappear for treatment). Casey called him day-to-day as well, though he’s not listed on the injury report as of this writing.
  • Some levity:
    • A reporter asked Lowry about the fanbase angst and Lowry pretty hilariously gave him crap for using a word he didn’t know the definition to. Another reporter looked up the definition and is now the first Toronto reporter to ever be in Lowry’s good books.
    • Casey was asked about why guys are turning down open threes and deferred the question to Dr. Shaw, the team’s psychologist.
    • In continuing our gimmick of me asking specific lineup, tactical, or injury questions and him giving me a non-answer, Casey was sure to wink after telling me both VanVleet and Anunoby were day-to-day.

  • The Raptors were really talking up the value of home court, and Casey issued a bit of a call to arms for fans attending Game 5: “That’s one reason why you play as hard as you do for 82 games, to get home-court advantage. You take care of home and both teams have taken care of home. We’ve got to do a good job of continuing to do that tomorrow night and I hope our home court crowd is as a loud and vicious and boisterous as they were in Washington the other night. There were some things coming out there – they were rabid. It was a hot environment on Sunday, so we have to turn around and do the same thing. I hope our crowd is loud on Washington and making it so they can’t call out plays and whatever. It’s very important. I think we have one of the best home courts in the league.”
  • The original plan for Jurassic Park/Maple Leaf Square called for the home team to have priority for viewing, but there’s been speculation that tomorrow night will utilize a dual screen setup so fans can watch both the Raptors in Game 5 and the Leafs in Game 7. We’ll post an update in the shootaround notes if we have one.
  • The Last Two Minute Report for Game 4 showed one incorrect non-call, a shooting foul that should have been called on John Wall on a DeMar DeRozan shot with 1:36 to go. Everything else was clean. I hate passing along L2M reports.
  • Over at The Athletic, I broke down the Raptors’ late-game offense from Sunday, possession by painful possession.

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