NBA Allows Players to Place Social Justice Messages on Jerseys

The NBA has announced that it will allow players to participate in the rest of the season to place social justice messages on their jerseys, in lieu of their last name.

Due to the mass social unrest sweeping across the US, organizations from all industries are thinking about how they can do their part to help raise awareness of major issues. None has captured the public interest as much as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported over the weekend that the NBA and the National Basketball Players’ Association had struck a deal to make promoting these social justice messages possible.

Nike Gets Behind the Move

Ordinarily, players are unable to tamper with their jerseys, due to agreements with jersey sponsors Nike. The NBA typically enforces this rule rigorously, with massive fines and suspensions for players who don’t comply.

However, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported that Nike is completely onboard with the idea. Nike, as the main athletic wear sponsor of the league, has the final say over any changes made to the athletic wear worn by the players.

The NBA’s History with Social Injustice

It should be said that in recent years the NBA has moved quickly to push social justice messages. With the national consciousness focused on the deaths of Eric Garner, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, the stars of the NBA have acted to show their support.

Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James all wore shirts with the final words of Eric Garner, “I Can’t Breathe.”

Players have been extremely vocal about these issues, and the NBA wants to show that they’re behind the sentiments.

Nike has further acted to include anti-racism messages as part of its advertising campaigns. They have recently published commercials focusing on systematic racism in the USA.

Even though NBA teams are able to have multiple iterations of their jerseys, the nameplates are typically left untouched. The last time NBA teams were able to alter the nameplates was back in 2014 when the NBA allowed players to have nicknames on the back instead of their last names.

Season Restart Imminent

With the season restart in Orlando imminent, fans will be able to see the new jerseys and the plethora of anti-racism advertising soon enough.

Critics have made it clear, though, that they don’t think the NBA is doing enough to tackle racism. In a black majority sport, simple aesthetical changes aren’t enough to make a real difference, according to them.

It’s unclear as to whether the NBA intends on doing more or carrying forward these changes into the following season. However, one would predict that how the NBA progresses on this issue will depend on how players react and the national mood at the start of next season.

The NBA is not expected to make a decision on this until the end of the season restart in Orlando.


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