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
- I Can't Breathe
- Power to the People
- Justice Now
- Say Her Name
- Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can)
- See Us
- Hear Us
- Respect Us
- Love Us
- Listen to Us
- Stand Up
- I Am A Man
- Speak Up
- How Many More
- Group Economics
- Education Reform
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."
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."