The NBA may allow players to personalize their jerseys with statements that promote social justice issues or charitable causes.
Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association, told The Undefeated on Saturday that the union and the league are currently collaborating on the initiative.
Messages like “Black Lives Matter” or “I Can’t Breathe” or the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery could replace the players’ names on the backs of their uniforms.
“We’re just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice
issues that guys around our league continue to talk about day in and day out,” Paul said. “People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”
The NBA season is scheduled to resume on July 30 with 22 teams competing in Orlando, Fla.
Paul told The Undefeated that players would not be forced or pressured to post social justice messages. He said suggestions will be offered for players who are searching for a cause to support.
“The guys I talked to were definitely excited,” Paul said. “The reason I’m passionate and excited about it is that it gives a voice to the voiceless. It also gives guys a chance to shine a light on something they are passionate about. Otherwise, they may not have been given a chance to express themselves.”
Paul said the NBPA would reach out to the families of Floyd, Taylor, Arbery and others whose deaths have sparked a wave of nationwide protests to get their blessing before using their names on jerseys.