Raptors in health and safety protocol back with team and could return to play against Detroit

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Late Tuesday evening, Fred VanVleet spoke with media and said that he did have COVID-19. He described his two days of symptoms as something he wouldn’t wish on anybody.

I could feel that it was something different,” said VanVleet. “I could feel the sickness, I could just feel it in me, I could feel it in my bones, in my muscles, in my blood, it just was something that was taking over my body for a short period of time.”

Neither VanVleet not Nick Nurse, who also spoke with media, elaborated on the experiences of the other Raptors who have been in the health and safety protocol. For those who did have COVID, if any others did, the hope of course is that they all return happy and healthy with no impacts that affect their lives beyond basketball. VanVleet mentioned that in the multi-step process of being cleared to return to the team, he did have to see a cardiologist and have tests done on his heart; it’s hopeful that the league protocols are in that way addressing the possibility of long-term impact.

To return to the present, the team is happy to have so many players and coaches back.

“I caught myself walking into the gym just smiling, smiling, like I forgot how much I love this shit,” said VanVleet. “Like, I really love the game, I really love basketball, I really love being in the gym, I don’t always love everything that comes with it, you know what I’m saying, but I really love the game and it’s just a blessing being back and having that taken away from me for that period of time where you just go cold turkey, nothing, you’re just in the room by yourself, you don’t get to practice, you don’t get to shoot on your own, I couldn’t do a push-up.”

True to form, VanVleet was thinking about everyone around him, despite his own difficulties. He said “his thoughts and hearts are with those that didn’t make it through COVID.” He acknowledged that it was a difficult time for everyone on the team, not just those sidelined with illness. When he did get a chance to speak with teammates who were struggling on the court, he said he was “just trying to talk guys off the ledge, man.”

The Raptors announced earlier in the day that Pascal Siakam, Malachi Flynn, and Pat McCaw are all questionable to play on March 17 against the Detroit Pistons. They’re with the team but need to pass some level of conditioning protocol to be cleared to play. VanVleet seems unlikely to play, but he won’t be far behind. OG Anunoby is with the team and is not going to play against Detroit, but Nurse was optimistic that he could be cleared for the March 19 game against the Utah Jazz. Nurse also said that most of the coaches who were absent are also now back with the team.

It’s good for the troops to be back for far more than basketball reasons.

“I’ve been giving out more hugs in the last 24 hours than I ever have in my life so I’m happy to be back to say the least,” said VanVleet.

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