NBA players may get the option to replace the last name on the back of their jerseys with statements on social justice when the league restarts in late July, according to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.
The move is similar to a petition by WNBA players, led by Las Vegas Aces star Angel McCoughtry, to allow players to put the names of victims of police brutality on their jerseys.
Charania noted the National Basketball Players Association sent details out on the plan Saturday evening and is currently working with the league and its jersey partner, Nike.
Some players have been concerned about the return of the NBA acting as a distraction from the nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality.
In a call in early June with a number of players, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving discussed opting out of the league’s plan to resume the season at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Florida. Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard had also advised against resuming play but clarified the main objective was to “raise awareness and gain transparency.”
The NBA says it is taking steps to increase diversity throughout the league and will establish a foundation to better connect with black communities
Plenty of NBA players have been seen demonstrating with protestors at Black Lives Matter rallies in recent weeks, including the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan, Tobias Harris and Stephen Curry.
In previous talks with the league, Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams floated the idea of players wearing “Black Lives Matter” patches on their jerseys as a potential option.
This is far from the first time the NBA has seen players make statements on systemic racism or police brutality. In 2014, following the death of Eric Garner while in New York City police custody, a number of players including LeBron James wore shirts with “I Can’t Breathe” written on them— the phrase served as Garner’s final words.
Earlier that year, the Clippers protested racist comments from then-owner Donald Sterling by removing their team warm-ups at center court and leaving them there.
The NBA has historically been supportive of its players speaking out for social causes.