NBA Reportedly in Talks to Allow Players to Replace Last Name on Jersey With Social Justice Messages

The NBA and NBA Players Association were tossing around the idea, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported on Saturday night.

A detail of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers jersey

Image via Getty/Michael Reaves

A detail of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers jersey

A lot has happened since the NBA paused its season. The world is not only battling a global pandemic, but Americans have also been rallying for justice following murders of citizens at the hands of the police—including the death of George Floyd. These issues have created tensions that make some fans and players believe that there is more to be done than simply play basketball. To show its commitment to the cause and understanding of its platform, the league is reportedly considering allowing players to swap out their last names in exchange for social messages stitched to the back of their jerseys. 

The NBA and NBA Players Association were tossing around the idea, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported on Saturday night. 

The NBA and NBPA are planning to allow players to replace the last name on their jerseys with statement on social justice, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 28, 2020

The news comes after several players were torn about restarting the season due to the current state of the country. Since the NBA solidified the bubble in Orlando, a coalition of players led by Kyrie Irving have been pushing for athletes to boycott the restart in hopes to prove to Americans that they are serious about societal change. Along with the current players that support the initiative, Stephen Jackson—who was close friends with George Floyd—thinks that NBA superstars should sit out in protest

Kyrie Irving told NBA players on call Friday, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: "I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy."

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020

The pushback comes from players who believe that the league provides them a stage to speak their truths and opinions. Some players believe sitting out will only silence their voices when they are fighting to have these stories heard. Additionally, Austin Rivers noted that the revenue these games generate can go toward helping the Black Lives Matter movement and that every player isn't on a $141 million contract like Irving so they can't afford to take a year off. 

Combining the desire to play with the need to touch on these social topics has seemingly led to discussions and the idea of putting messages on the back of their jerseys. Players have worn "I Can't Breathe" shirts and other forms of protest in the past. As a result, there will likely be a push for more tangible actions on behalf of the NBA by the Players Association.

NBPA sent players initial details on the plan tonight, stating it is working with the league and Nike. NBA and the players union have been discussing various ways to allow players to express social justice issues in season restart.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 28, 2020

Here's how fans are reacting to the potential jersey change. 

Jr Smith watching lebron put up 0 but “black lives matter” score 45

— John (@iam_johnw) June 28, 2020

Mission accomplished.

— Kev (@kevkashi_) June 28, 2020

If @KingJames doesn't put "U BUM" on his I'm gonna be mad

— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) June 28, 2020

Racism defeated. Wow

— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) June 28, 2020

make this the new sixers logo too

— kos (@kostancaaa__) June 28, 2020

I am absolutely 1000% here for this

— Josh Reynolds (@JoshReynolds24) June 28, 2020

the “all lives matter” #20 celtics jersey will be sold out by august 3rd

— kos (@kostancaaa__) June 28, 2020

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