For the first time since March, the Boston Celtics will play in a real NBA game on Friday when they face off against the Milwaukee Bucks in Orlando.
With no positive tests for the coronavirus among NBA players so far and no fans in the stands, the league is trying to get back to something like normal. And while the Celtics will be vying for a shot at a championship banner during this pandemic season, they'll also be using their platform to shine a light on causes that matter to them.
Jaylen Brown, who will have "Liberation" on the back of his jersey, told reporters on Wednesday that he and other NBA players spoke with Tamika Palmer, the mother of Taylor, in a conversation that he called emotional.
"We know she was hurting, you know? That was her baby girl that's gone. Her daughter was killed," Brown said. "And for her to be able to get on the phone call, exhibit that strength in front of us and rally us up and let us know that, 'We don't want this to happen to the next girl. Or the next person of color or woman of color.' I stand with her."
Brown said some people in the country have simply said 'Oh well' to Taylor's death and moved on.
"And this is not a 'Oh well' moment for us," he said. "So we're going to continue to emhpasize justice for Breonna Taylor. Imma continue to emphasize voting — especially in the Black community — utilizing our power to come together for things that we believe in. And I'm not going to be quiet."
Marcus Smart, who has also been very vocal during his interactions with the media on speaking about the police killing of Taylor, said the players have to be able to multitask.
"We have a lot of distractions going on around us. We've still got some things that we're fighting for," Smart said. "But at the same time, we're still here to play and here to win a championship. And I think that's everybody in this bubble. That's the main goal, is to get there."
Head Coach Brad Stevens said the time together in the NBA bubble has been a chance to learn from his team, especially around the issues of race and justice.
"You know, when you're a team and you're together all the time, and you're eating together and you're spending every waking minute together, and you really don't have anywhere else to go right now, you find yourself in great conversations," Stevens said. "And so, I've learned a lot from all of these guys."
On the court, the biggest question may be if Kemba Walker, who has been dealing with a nagging knee injury, will be able to stay healthy.
Stevens told reporters that right now, he'll be on a minutes restriction that will have a ceiling between 14 to 20 minutes a game. The plan is to eventually ramp that up as they continue to play.
Walker said it's frustrating to have to deal with that injury as the Celtics get back to play. But he added that he's looking forward to taking on the Bucks right out of the gate.
"It's good to get those guys for the first game, just 'cause we know it's going to be a tough challenge," Walker said. "So we're looking forward to the matchup, we're looking forward to the competetiveness because we know for a fact that they're going to bring it, as they do each and every night, each and every game. So it's going to be fun, going to be a fun challenge."