With several NBA players having a strong interest in supporting the ongoing movement against racial injustice and police brutality, the league has given them the option of displaying messages relating to the cause on the back of their jerseys when the 2019-20 season resumes later this month. Surprisingly, LeBron James — an outspoken proponent of the Black Lives Matter protests — has said he won’t be doing so.
As reported by USA Today and other outlets on Saturday, James indicated during a media conference call that he’ll continue to have his last name stitched on the back of his No. 23 jersey as usual. The three-time NBA champion, four-time league MVP and 16-time All-Star elaborated on the decision during the call.
“It’s no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players,” James said to reporters on the call. “I commend anyone who decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal. I would’ve loved to have had a say-so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple of things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process, which is OK. I’m absolutely OK with that.”
James also maintained that he doesn’t need something on the back of his jersey for people to understand his position with regard to the movement.
On Wednesday, ESPN and The Undefeated‘s Marc Spears reported that 285 of the expected eligible 350 players participating in the NBA’s 22-team season restart at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida elected to replace the names on the back of their jerseys with social justice messages.
“Equality” was the most popular choice among players, according to National Basketball Players’ Association (NBPA) Executive Director Michele Roberts, followed by “Black Lives Matter.” Other possible messages on the list, which was approved by the NBA and NBPA, include “Say Their Names,” “Vote,” “I Can’t Breathe,” “Mentor,” “Justice,” and “Listen,” among several others.
It was indicated that just 17 players opted to forego having social justice messages emblazoned on their jerseys. The deadline for players to decide what to wear on their jerseys was Monday, according to Roberts. However, she also indicated that it was a soft deadline and that the Players’ Association was still awaiting final decisions from some players at the time.
His decision to not wear a message on his jersey aside, James has been thoroughly engaged in the social justice cause. As shared previously by The Inquisitr, he strongly condemned police brutality and injustice against Black people in an update to Instagram one day after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers, the event that ignited the current movement.