Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association, told ESPN’s The Undefeated on Saturday that the players’ union and the league are collaborating to allow players to wear jerseys with personalized social justice messages instead of last names during the upcoming restart of the NBA season.
What We Know:
- The personalized statements on jerseys are part of a long list of social justice messages the players plan to make through the remainder of the season, which restarts July 30 in Orlando, Florida. The NBA and the NBPA announced an agreement on Wednesday to continue to discuss fighting systemic racism and make it a main focus.
- Personalized jerseys could say such things as “Black Lives Matter” or “I Can’t Breathe,” to bring light to a social or charitable cause or even display the names of those who were killed by police in recent months.
“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,” Paul said. “People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”
- NBA players were recently involved in nationwide protests, vocal on social media, and active in the aftermath of George Floyd‘s death on May 25 in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor‘s death on March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky.
- For players who would rather raise awareness with their jerseys for causes or charities not connected to social injustice, police brutality or other racial issues, Paul said that will be accepted as well.
- “The guys I talked to were definitely excited,” Paul said. “The reason I’m passionate and excited about it is that it gives a voice to the voiceless. It also gives guys a chance to shine a light on something they are passionate about. Otherwise, they may not have been given a chance to express themselves.”
The NBA was made up of 74.9% Black players during the 2018-19 season, according to the 2019 NBA Complete Racial and Gender Report Card released last week by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.