After the deaths of Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin, we saw NBA players don hoodies and T-shirts in order to create awareness around the injustices that befall our communities. And in looking to take those efforts even further, CBS Sports reports that the NBA has given players the green light to replace their names on their jerseys with personalized messages addressing social justice.
Per ESPN, this messaging could include familiar phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” or “I Can’t Breathe,” or display the names of victims of police brutality, like Breonna Taylor or George Floyd. The NBA has maintained that social justice will be a priority when the season resumes in July, and the decision to allow players to wear this messaging was made in conjunction with the NBA’s athletic wear sponsor, Nike.
“We’re just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice issues that guys around our league continue to talk about day in and day out,” NBA star Chris Paul told The Undefeated. “People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”
Las Vegas Aces star Angel McCoughtry announced a similar campaign last week in the WNBA.
“I am currently working with the [Las Vegas Aces] and @wnba to use our voices, our uniforms, and our sport to continue to impact and create real change,” she posted on Instagram. “I am creating a petition (LINK IN BIO) to allow players the ability to put the FIRST & LAST NAME of HUMAN BEINGS that who have been injured or KILLED in incidents involving POLICE BRUTALITY!”
There’s been no word on if the WNBA will allow its players to do the same, but Paul is “passionate and excited” to provide a voice to the voiceless.
“I was just thinking about how forward-thinking our league is and how passionate the players in our league are about different issues,” he said. “Our guys have been marching on the front lines and using their platforms. If guys are choosing to come down to Orlando to make sacrifices and play this game, why not be able to play and still say his or her name at the same time?”
As for Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, he offered his own suggestion on what to wear on the back of his jersey over the weekend:
On Monday, however, he apologized.
“I want to first apologize for reposting something that didn’t clearly and accurately convey what I wanted to share,” he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “My post was intended to focus on the bad cops who get away with the murder of unarmed Black men and women, and those who continue to harass peaceful BLACK LIVES MATTER protestors.
“I know there are good cops ‘12’ out there. I know some, and a few are family. I am thankful to the cops at Murray State who took care of me and the cops who continue to watch over me with the Grizzlies. We NEED good cops to step up and make sure other cops are not abusing their power.”
For the “I refuse to watch football unless they stand for the anthem!” crowd, you might want to start watching marble racing or something because you’re about to have a long ass fall/winter.