The NBA will reportedly allow players to replace their last names on their jerseys with a statement on social justice.
Ja Morant – No. 12 on the Grizzlies – initially delighted in an idea for his uniform: “F—.”
“F— 12” has become shorthand for “F— the police.” The phrase probably stems from the old TV show “Adam-12” or a belief that a narcotics unit was Unit 12. (The phrase sometimes means more specifically, “F— the police narcotics unit.”)
Regardless, Morant is backtracking after re-posting a picture of a Memphis “F— 12” jersey and saying he wanted to wear it during the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) June 29, 2020
The NBA was obviously never going to let Morant wear “F—” on the back of his jersey. Presumably, Morant was aware of that and joking around.
There are multiple battles being waged. Addressing “bad” cops is the smaller one. The larger focus of the current protests: Reforming how police operate. So, when some people say, “F— 12,” they don’t always mean all individual officers – but the policing system at large. (Some people mean all individual officers.)
But police and their supporters too often take any criticism, however harmless or even constructive, very personally. It’s a symptom of the out-of-balance power dynamic between police and the people they’re sworn to serve and protect.
So, it’s unsurprising Morant felt compelled to apologize. He also might have had more specific familial reasons.
Yet, it says something about him that, even in his apology, he continued to advocate for change.