As part of their effort to keep the fight against racial injustice going during the return of the 2019-20 season, the NBA was said to be working with the Players Association on allowing players to replace the last name on their jerseys with a personalized message.
Although the idea was seen as a way for players to continue raising awareness on the real issues at hand, it was not long before social media started to take it out of proportion. This was highlighted by Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant agreeing with a photoshop of his No. 12 jersey featuring a provocative message regarding police reform.
Morant has since had to backtrack on his initial comments, however, this did not prevent the league from taking such matters into consideration. As a result, it seems they have made efforts to ensure that players are not considering any inciting messages.
According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, the NBA and NBPA reached an agreement on the list of social justice messages that will be allowed on jerseys:
The list of the approved suggested social messages, per the source, for the back of the NBA jerseys: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; I Can’t Breathe; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Group Economics; Education Reform; and Mentor.
Players will have two choices for the messages that would take up the the space above the numbers on the back of the jersey. If they wish to keep the message going after the first four nights of the revived season, their name would go below the number.
Aside from the risks involved with finishing the season amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the players’ coalition expressed their concern with actively providing a distraction from action being taken to fight systemic racism. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has acknowledged their desire to utilize the platform in Orlando to keep the spotlight on the social unease that exists in this country.
The league reportedly plans on painting the sidelines of the three arenas being used for play to honor the Black Lives Matter protests. However, Silver still has yet to discuss a potential course of action in the event that players decide to kneel during the national anthem as part of the protests.
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