The plan for NBA players to put message of social justice onto their jerseys?
Despite snags with using the names of victims of police brutality, it’s on.
The National Basketball Players Association and the NBA reached an agreement Friday on social justice messages that can be displayed above the number on the back of jerseys when the league resumes play July 30, a source told ESPN’s The Undefeated.
The list of the approved suggested social messages, per the source, for the back of the NBA jerseys: 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.
Missing from that list: Free Hong Kong.
OF COURSE the NBA has a list of approved messages. The NBA can promote social justice. But there are going to limits to running a protest movement through a multibillion-dollar corporation. This is a league that allowed an owner to remain in place for years after his racism and sexism came to light, brought up its attire rules when players wore “I CAN’T BREATHE” shirts and still requires its players to stand for the national anthem. There was no way the league would allow more-controversial slogans on jerseys.
Now, “I can’t breathe” is an approved message for a jersey, because the middle has shifted. Customers and employees want to see companies support racial justice. Society is changing.
Fundamentally, the NBA is not. Its still a business concerned with making money.
Praise the NBA for doing good. But also don’t lose sight of the bottom line.