Report: NBA, NBPA agree to list of social justice messages for jerseys

A protester looks up at a sign that reads "Black Lives Matter" in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, during a protest against the recent death of George Floyd. (Daniel Cole/AP)

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have reached an agreement on which social justice messages can be displayed on players’ jerseys when games resume, according to Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

The messages can be displayed in place of a player’s name during the first four days of the restart, Spears reported. After that, a player is still able to have a message on the back of their jersey but their last name will be beneath it, too.

The list, according to Spears, includes the following messages:

• Black Lives Matter
• Say Their Names
• Vote
• I Can’t Breathe
• Justice
• Peace
• Equality
• Freedom
• Enough
• Power to the People
• Justice Now
• Say Her Name
• Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can)
• Liberation
• See Us
• Hear Us
• Respect Us
• Love Us
• Listen
• Listen to Us
• Stand Up
• Ally
• Anti-Racist
• I Am A Man
• Speak Up
• How Many More
• Group Economics
• Education Reform
• Mentor

Players will be able to opt out of having a social justice message on the back of their jersey if they choose.

Discussions about how the NBA and its players will advance the ongoing racial justice movement in the United States have been central to the league’s restart plans.

Several NBA players have been involved in the nationwide protests that have taken place, sparked by the deaths of George Floyd — who was killed after a white police officer pinned him down and knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes — and of Breonna Taylor — who was killed after police entered her apartment executing a no-knock search warrant and, following a brief confrontation, fired several shots, which struck her at least eight times.

In June, Kyrie Irving led a players-only conference call centred on unity, systemic racism and investing in communities, including over 80 basketball players from the NBA and WNBA, according to multiple reports. The call sparked broader conversations over how the NBA’s return-to-play plan may impact the current racial justice movement across the United States and abroad.

Since then, commissioner Adam Silver and players union head Michele Roberts have spoken about the importance of finding a way for the NBA’s return to help advance the conversation surrounding racial injustice, rather than subtract from it.

One of those initiatives was replacing player names on jerseys with social justice messages. Another, which was reported earlier this week, involves the league reportedly planning to paint “Black Lives Matter” near centre court and inside both sidelines of the three Orlando arenas that will be used when play resumes.

Currently the NBA’s plan is to resume its season, which was suspended in mid-March due to the novel coronavirus, on July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

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