Raptors' Fred VanVleet laments NBA's business side amid 'un-pure year of basketball'

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Brandon Wong
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Star Raptors guard Fred VanVleet called this NBA season
Star Raptors guard Fred VanVleet called this NBA season "the most un-pure year of basketball that I’ve ever been a part of." (Getty)

This year has been difficult — both mentally and physically — for players and teams, whether it be the shortened season or the tedious health and safety protocols that come along with trying to play pro sports through a pandemic.

The Toronto Raptors have had it particularly tough, as the team hasn't had a true home game in more than a calendar year. On Saturday, guard Fred VanVleet expressed his dissatisfaction around the NBA’s mishandling of the 2020-21 season.

“To be honest, this is probably the most un-pure year of basketball that I’ve ever been a part of, just from the whole league and rushing the season back,” he said. “It’s pretty much all about business this year on every level. It’s hard to hide it now.”

This comes after the 2019-2020 campaign ended in October, which saw the league experience a quick turnaround with a condensed 72-game sched for the current season that began in December.

VanVleet continued to voice his frustrations about the league seemingly prioritizing the business side over its players' health and well-being.

“The NBA is a great balance of the pure love and joy of one of the best sports in the world mixed with a billion dollar industry,” he said. “And I think this year, the industry is taking precedence over some of the love and the joy. But there are good days and bad days."

The Raptors have definitely experienced their fair share of bad days after a rough start to the year, especially in March, which saw the team’s roster and coaching staff get ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak that contributed quite heavily to Toronto's 1-13 record on the month, including a nine-game losing streak.

Although the 27-year-old-guard is unhappy with how the season is unfolding, he acknowledged that players were given the opportunity to choose their preferred start date, with the majority opting to begin the season in December.

“We did vote on what season we wanted, they gave a few options and most of the players picked this option, so we’re in it, which is why I can’t complain about it,” he said. “But I can point out that this is what it is, and the pros and cons that come with that. It’s very conflicting.”

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