NBA players are never silent when it comes to issues that plague our society, especially when it comes to injustices. As the nation reels over the death of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, the NBA has to shift their focus to restarting the season in Orlando.
In an effort to keep the focus on real life issues, the NBA in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association is allowing players to display social justice messages on the back of their jersey.
Some of the approved messages include 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; and Mentor.
While many players are satisfied with these choices, others were not interested in what the league offered. Due to some of the dissatisfaction, Russell Westbrook stepped in with his Honor the Gift clothing line to offer extended messages his peers can wear during warmups.
The shirts provide more options for players to make a statement through their clothing, especially regarding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Westbrook’s list of slogans include phrases like Systemic Racism, Police Reform, Break the Cycle, Strange Fruit, and more.
“The league and the NBPA wanted to do something special for our players and honestly I’m lucky enough to have my own brand. I wanted to be able to show my respect and gratitude towards the families obviously on the front of the shirt. We couldn’t put every single name on it.
On the back, I wanted to be able to give our guys in the league a message that they weren’t allowed to put on the back of their jerseys that I did know about internally. Just wanted to give guys another way to use their voice without talking.
It’s something that I’m personally most proud of that I’ve done thus far with my brand. Especially, something that I plan to obviously just take action any way and find a way to continue to make sure our voices are heard and we find ways to make change and get justice for the names on the front of the shirt and those that are not on it as well.”Russell Westbrook