Clippers' Kawhi Leonard on Social Justice Messages: 'It's About Doing the Work'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 10:   Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles past Chasson Randle #25 of the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on March 10, 2020 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The NBA is allowing players to wear social justice messages on the back of their uniforms during games if they so choose, but some players are sticking with the traditional last name.  

Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard is one of them, telling reporters doing the work in communities to combat systemic racism, discrimination and police brutality was more important than putting something on the back of his jersey:

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the list of messages players can put on the back of their uniform—as agreed upon by the NBA and NBPA—includes:

  • 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.

Many other NBA players are taking the same approach as Leonard, including Los Angeles Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

James spoke with reporters about the decision:

"I actually didn't go with a name on the back of my jersey. It was no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players. I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It's just something that didn't really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.

"I would have loved to have a say-so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind, but I wasn't part of that process, which is OK. I'm absolutely OK with that. ... I don't need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I'm about and what I'm here to do."

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Davis told reporters he chose to stick with his last name because representing his family is important to him:

"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. 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."

According to Marc J. Spears of ESPN, 285 players out of 350 eligible players are planning to have a message on the back of their uniforms. "Equality" is the top choice, followed by "Black Lives Matter."

Related

    Western Conference Will Officially Have Play-In

    NBA announces schedule and TV info for the first and potential second play-in games for the 8th seed in the West ➡️

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Western Conference Will Officially Have Play-In

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Raptors Clinch No. 2 Seed with Win, Celtics Locked into No. 3

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Raptors Clinch No. 2 Seed with Win, Celtics Locked into No. 3

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Pop Talks Race in Our Culture

    Coach Pop reflects on 'overall culture' in America on the six-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Pop Talks Race in Our Culture

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    NBA HOFer Paul Westphal Diagnosed with Brain Cancer

    NBA logo
    NBA

    NBA HOFer Paul Westphal Diagnosed with Brain Cancer

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report