NBA

NBA to Allow Social Justice Statements on Backs of Jerseys

Houston Rockets James Harden (R) dribbles the ball next to Toronto Raptors Norman Powell (L) during their NBA preseason basketball game in Saitama on October 8, 2019.
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

The NBA & the NBPA have agreed to let players replace the last name on their jersey with a statement or message related to social justice, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Shams noted that the Players Association sent details of the proposal to the league, who quickly agreed thereafter.

Considering it’s the NBA, this move comes with little surprise. The league and its players have been deeply connected with real-life social issues for years. Back in 2014, LeBron James & Kobe Bryant were among several influential players that wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warmups. They did this to show solidarity with Eric Garner and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yet again, BLM is at the forefront of mainstream discussion and prompted this decision. Following the recent killing of an unarmed George Floyd by law enforcement, celebrities of all kinds have been vocal on the subject, and NBA players are no exception.

Stars like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard joined marchers in peaceful protests. Others such as Kyrie Irving & Dwight Howard saw it as an issue much bigger than sports. They expressed concerns for the NBA’s restart. Notably, they said a season could steer attention away from bigger systemic issues.

As of now, the season looks set to resume regardless, likely to the dismay of some. But luckily, this mutual agreement shows that professional basketball and awareness surrounding social injustices can coexist. Putting a few words on a uniform might not be much. However, it does give players a platform to promote social justice once the NBA starts back up in July.

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