The NBA’s restart is scheduled for July 30, and as part of this unique and mostly unfortunate circumstance, the league is allowing players more ways to fight against social injustices while also keeping basketball at the forefront.
One interesting move the NBA decided to incorporate was to give each player participating in the Orlando restart the opportunity to write a message on the back of their respective jerseys. The league approved a multitude of social justice messages that will be displayed across the back of the selected player’s jersey instead of their last name.
Among the 18 former Kentucky Wildcats who were originally slated to play down at Walt Disney World, 15 of them elected to write a message on their jersey. A few of the more popular phrases picked have been “Black Lives Matter”, “Equality”, and “Freedom”. Players who are from countries outside of the United States are allowed to have the message translated into their native language.
Here is the list of messages chosen by former Wildcats.
Enes Kanter | Freedom
Bam Adebayo | Black Lives Matter
Tyler Herro | Black Lives Matter
Eric Bledsoe | Freedom
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | Equality
Jamal Murray | Freedom
Patrick Patterson | I Am A Man
Darius Miller | Power To The People (OUT)
Hamidou Diallo | Black Lives Matter
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | Equality
Nerlens Noel | Equality
Devin Booker | Equality
Wenyen Gabriel | Antiracist
De’Aaron Fox | Antiracist
Trey Lyles | Antiracist (OUT)
The three players who elected not wear a message are Anthony Davis (who, along with teammate LeBron James, decided to honor his family by leaving his last name), Rajon Rondo (who is expected to miss at least six weeks with a thumb injury), and Willie Cauley-Stein (who declined to join the Mavericks in Orlando as he welcomed the birth of his first child).
About two weeks ago, Davis spoke about why his jersey will remain the same:
“I didn’t know what to decide: 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,” the Los Angeles Lakers big man said, according to ESPN. “Also social justice as well. But just holding my family name and representing the name on the back to go through this process and my name and people who’ve been with me through my entire career to help me get to this point. While still kind of bringing up things that we can do for social injustice.”
Something I found interesting (for little reason) was that even though well-over 200 players chose one of the approved social justice message, only five players opted to write “Anitracist”, and three of them–Fox, Gabriel, and Lyles–are former ‘Cats. Most players appear to be participating in the new jersey names and it’s just a small part of what the NBA and the players are doing to combat racial injustices while they restart the 2019-20 season.