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Social justice messages may be allowed on NBA jerseys

Los Angeles—NBA players could be allowed to wear jerseys bearing slogans supporting social justice causes or charities instead of their names when the league resumes next month, ESPN reported Sunday.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association, told ESPN’s The Undefeated website that players were in talks with the league about the initiative.

The report said jerseys could carry messages such as “Black Lives Matter” or “I Can’t Breathe”—two popular rallying cries of the protest movement which erupted after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

“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 told The Undefeated.

“People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”

NBA players have been prominent supporters of the protests which swept across all 50 states following Floyd’s death during his arrest by police on May 25.

Players would also have the opportunity to use the initiative to show support for causes not related to racial injustice and police brutality, Paul said, adding that no player would be forced to display a message.

Paul meanwhile said the idea had received positive feedback from players he had discussed it with.

“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,” added Paul, who earlier this month joined protesters at a Black Lives Matter event in Los Angeles.

The NBA is due to resume its coronavirus-disrupted 2019-2020 season in Orlando, Florida on July 30. AFP

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler ruled himself out of the NBA’s restarted season on Sunday, citing safety fears because of the coronavirus. 

Chandler told ESPN he had opted to skip the restart in Orlando in order to spend more time with his family.

“As difficult as it will be to not be with my teammates, the health and well-being of my family has to come first,” Chandler told ESPN. 

“Thank you to the Nets organization for understanding and supporting me in this decision, and I will be watching and rooting for our team in Orlando.”

Chandler had played 35 games this season before the coronavirus shutdown in March, averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

He joins a handful of other NBA players who have elected to miss the restarted season in Florida, which includes the Portland Trail Blazers’ Trevor Ariza, the Washington Wizards’ Davis Bertans, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Avery Bradley and the Dallas Mavericks’ Willie Cauley-Stein. 

NBA teams are due to travel to Orlando on July 7 for training camp before the league resumes on July 30.

Topics: NBA , COVID-19 , Black Lives Matter , National Basketball Players Association , Protest , Wilson Chandler
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