As the NBA resumes the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league and its players are looking to make a statement. In collaboration with the players union, the NBA is looking to replace the names on the back of players’ jerseys with social justice messages. Reports also say the courts at the Walt Disney World property in Orlando, Florida may look drastically different as well.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania posted the following message on Twitter over the weekend:
“The NBA and NBPA are planning to allow players to replace the last name on their jerseys with statements on social justice,” Charania tweeted.
“NBPA sent players initial details on the plan tonight, stating it is working with the league and Nike. NBA and the players union have been discussing various ways to allow players to express social justice issues…”
NBPA president and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul confirmed The Athletic’s report during an interview on ESPN’s “The Undefeated.”
“We’re just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice issues that guys around our league continue to talk…,” 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.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody, NBA players have been very vocal concerning racial injustice. The league believes giving its players the freedom to speak out will help move the discussion forward and raise awareness.
In addition to the jersey messages, the NBA is planning to paint the phrase “Black Lives Matter” inside both sidelines of all three courts used for televised games. According to ESPN, the WNBA is also considering doing the same thing when it resumes its abbreviated 2020 season.
Other sources have also reported that WNBA players have made further suggestions to honor victims of social injustice. Players want to wear warm-up shirts that read “Say Her Name” in an effort to keep attention on female victims of police brutality.
The league is hoping these simple yet powerful initiatives will make a difference in communities across the country.
“I think this is incumbent on us to not lose this moment and this opportunity. I know Michele [Roberts, executive director of the players’ union] and Chris [Paul, president of the players’ union] can speak for themselves. But I certainly believe that the world’s attention will be on us in Orlando,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week.