LA Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis have both opted not to add “social justice” messages to the back of their jerseys when the NBA resumes play at the end of July. The teammates are among 17 other NBA players who have decided against replacing their last names on their jerseys in the fight against racial discrimination.
Over the weekend, Lakers’ power forward LeBron James announced he would forgo replacing his name with one of the league-approved 29 social justice messages. Although he praised those willing to make a statement, he felt it didn’t reflect how he wanted to take a stand against racial inequality.
“It was no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players. I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal,” James said.
“I don’t need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I’m about and what I’m here to do.”
James’ fellow superstar teammate Anthony Davis also decided against wearing a message on the back of his jersey. He explained that representing his family name is what he wants to be known for. Not unlike LeBron James, he also commended other players who chose to wear social justice messages to combat racism.
“I think the name Davis is something that I try to represent every time I try to step on the floor, my family. Should I have a social justice message or should I have my last name there? I just think my last name is something that is very important to me,” Davis said.
“Some guys chose to, some guys chose not. We’ll have a ton of ways to kind of represent what we stand for.”
According to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, “Equality” is the social justice statement that will appear the most on the back of players’ jerseys. Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul is among several players that feel this word best represents how he feels.
“I chose ‘equality’ because it reminds us that in order to have real impact and change, we need to make a conscious effort to level the playing field and create systems that are not bias-based on race, education, economics, or gender,” Paul told Marc J. Spears at ESPN.
Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum said that players will wear “Black Lives Matter” shooting shirts during the games. The player’s association will also provide hoodies and T-shirts featuring social justice messages.