As the result of an agreement between the NBA and National Basketball Players’ Association, players participating in the upcoming season restart will be allowed to replace the last name on the back of their jerseys with a statement on social justice. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported this news late Saturday night.
In recent years, the NBA and its players have been quick to adopt relevant aesthetics in the face of the social injustice around this country being in the national consciousness, particularly to Black Americans. Following the death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York police, players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kyrie Irving wore shirts that read “I Can’t Breathe” — Garner’s final words. Players have also been vocal about the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Nike has also pushed to attach anti-racism messaging into its advertising, creating a commercial that encourages viewers to not ignore the problem of systemic racism in America in the wake of George Floyd’s death. While NBA teams can have multiple iterations of their jerseys for the season, the nameplate is often left untouched. The last time it was changed, however, came in 2014, when the NBA released jerseys that would have the nicknames of players on the back instead of their last names.