Written by: @kristenshylin_
As teams prepare to make a comeback for the remainder of the NBA 2019-2020 season, the league and players’ union collectively decided to allow players to wear a social justice message on the back of their jerseys in place of their names.
On Saturday afternoon, Lakers player LeBron James revealed in a video call with reporters that he would not be wearing slogans supporting the Black Lives Matter movement on his jersey, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal,” James said.
The all-star forward stated that he wanted to have an input on the message on his 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,” he continued.
Although James will keep his name on the back of his jersey, he said he does not knock other players who choose otherwise.
“I commend everybody, and I respect everybody that decided to put something on the back of their jersey,” James said. “I think that’s great, and I also respect anyone that didn’t.”
The league and players’ union approved 29 social justice messages including, “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, 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.”
James is not the only player to voice criticism of the approved slogans, which were not consulted with the members. Lakers player Kyle Kuzma said he wished his message could have been more personal.
Other players picked slogans from the list that best resonated with them. According to the LA Times, JaVale McGee chose the motto “Respect Us.”
“I definitely feel like respect is a key factor in social injustices,” McGee said. “I feel like we definitely need to get equality, we definitely need to get the same respect everybody else does.”
McGee added that it is a blessing that the NBA is using its platform to spread awareness.
Like McGee, James supports the league’s efforts to condemn racism and promote racial equality and justice.
James is known for using his platform to shed light on the corrupt justice system and Black Americans’ mistreatment. The athlete recently jumpstarted the More Than a Vote organization to combat voter suppression in predominately Black communities.
The star player made it clear that he will continue to support the movement regardless of what is on the back of his jersey.
“I will continue to do [work] off the floor, and when I’m talking to you guys— everything that I do has a purpose, it has a meaning.”