The NBA is working with the National Basketball Players Association to allow players to wear jerseys with personalized social justice messages on their backs instead of their last names during the seasonal comeback in Orlando, said Chris Paul, Thunder Guard and union president of Oklahoma City .
“We’re just trying to keep shining light on the various social justice issues that people in our league talk about every day,” Paul told ESPN’s The Undefeated on Saturday. “People say that everyone will be talking about social justice in Orlando. You won’t get lost with these jerseys.”
Personalized messages on the back of jerseys are one of many ways the NBA and NBPA plan to strengthen social justice during the Orlando comeback. Last week, the NBA and NBPA announced that triggering social change would be the goal of the restart.
While players will not be forced to carry a message, Paul says they will provide a list of suggestions for players looking for a reason to help. According to the ESPN, these messages could include phrases (such as “Black Lives Matter” or “I can’t breathe”), names of social justice organizations, or names of people killed by the police.
“The guys I spoke to were definitely excited,” said Paul. “The reason I’m passionate and excited is that it gives the voiceless a voice. It also gives the guys an opportunity to shed light on something they’re passionate about, otherwise they may not have had a chance express yourself. “
Players and teams have been involved in protests across the country and on social media to fight for social justice and the end of police brutality. Paul informed ESPN that the NBPA plans to reach the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Trayvon Martin and others whose death has caused outrage across the country to get permission to give their names wear.
“I was just thinking about how forward-looking our league is and how passionate our league players are about different issues,” said Paul. “Our boys marched on the front lines and used their platforms. If the boys come to Orlando to make sacrifices and play this game, why not play and say his name at the same time?
“When marching, they say, ‘Say his name … George Floyd. Say her name … Breonna Taylor.’ Of course we have to go to the families to see if that’s okay. “