The NBA has gone to great lengths to ensure safety within the Walt Disney World bubble, and though some questions still remains on that front, players have been equally concerned about various social issues they have become active with.
Even after the NBA and NBPA voted to approve the 22-team restart plan, there was some dissension as a players’ coalition formed. Kyrie Irving led the charge, and Los Angeles Lakers teammates Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard have also been heavily involved.
Bradley has since decided against participating in the NBA restart, both because of wanting to keep with advocating on the social front and out of concerns for the health of his son. The Lakers are still awaiting a decision from Howard, but reportedly believe he will play in Orlando.
Players who will remain active to finish out the 2019-20 season will have an opportunity to change the name on the back of their jersey to further advocate for social justice, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 28, 2020
Just last week the NBA and NBPA said the parties were engaged in ongoing discussions on how to best provide players with an opportunity to use their platform while in Orlando.
The issues of systemic racism and police brutality in our country need to end,” NBPA president Chris Paul said in a statement. “As a union of NBA players and as a league, it is our job to use our collective platform to both put a spotlight on those issues and work to effect change.
“As players, we have taken a leadership role when it comes to using our voices and implementing practical solutions, but there is much work ahead both in Orlando and long-term to continue the momentum and bring about real, long-lasting change to our society.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver added: “The league and the players are uniquely positioned to have a direct impact on combating systemic racism in our country, and we are committed to collective action to build a more equal and just society.
“A shared goal of our season restart will be to use our platform in Orlando to bring attention to these important issues of social justice. We look forward to engaging in ongoing conversations with the players and their Association about our joint leaguewide initiative and thank Michele, Chris and the other players for their leadership toward creating meaningful, long-term change.”
Danny Green is among those who believe participating in the NBA restart can further amplify a player’s voice. Lakers legend Magic Johnson expressed a similar sentiment.
Nike has history of restricting jersey changes
Nike also deserves credit in this scenario, as they previously have been reluctant to allow for sudden changes with respect to an NBA jersey. When Anthony Davis was officially traded to the Lakers, LeBron James attempted to hand over No. 23 to his new teammate.
However, Nike said the change would need to wait until the 2020-21 season, because the company already had a significant amount of inventory in James’ jerseys and the deadline for changes had passed. Davis ultimately settled on No. 3.
Nike and the NBA are in the third season of an eight-year contract that was worth a reported $1 billion.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!