The NBA and National Basketball Players Association agreed to a deal Sunday that would allow players competing in the upcoming restart plan in Orlando to replace their last name on the back of jerseys with social justice messages. The move was done as part of a larger effort by the league to keep the focus of the season on the Black Lives Matter movement, and police brutality happening toward Black people around the United States.
However, the NBPA is leaning toward not placing names of specific victims of police brutality on players’ jerseys out of respect for the families, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. The players union reportedly wants to handle this situation as delicately as possible, and not cause any additional harm to the families of the victims if someone is accidentally left out, or if the family had a preference for which player they wanted honoring a specific name. No official decision has been made yet regarding if names will be used or not, as the league is planning to respectfully shine a light on the racial injustices happening toward the Black community in this country.
It was reported recently that the league would be painting “Black Lives Matter” on both sidelines of all three courts that it will be using in Disney World. The NBPA and the NBA have agreed that the focus of the remainder of the season will be to “find tangible and sustainable ways to address racial inequality across the country,” per an NBPA release. In the lead up to the season restarting, a coalition of players, led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley, have already created a list of changes they’d like to see made within the league. That list includes improved hiring practices for Black front office and coaching positions, donations to organizations that serve Black communities and partnerships with Black-owned businesses and arena vendors.
Some players, like Irving and Bradley, have questioned the appropriateness of resuming the season with all the turmoil happening in the country right now, and would rather focus their efforts toward making change in their own communities. However, other players like LeBron James and Malcolm Brogdon feel the platform the NBA provides can only elevate the changes they’re fighting for.