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LeBron James Opts Out of Wearing Pre-Approved Social Justice Message on Jersey

Basketball

NBA players petitioned for and won the right to wear social justice messages on their jerseys during the league’s upcoming season restart. And while we figured some players may not take part, we were v. surprised to hear that of all people, superstar LeBron James is one of them.

July 13, 2020
 GETTY IMAGES
GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: NBA players petitioned for and won the right to wear social justice messages on their jerseys during the league’s upcoming season restart. And while we figured some players may not take part, we were v. surprised to hear that of all people, superstar LeBron James is one of them.

Seriously?: Seriously. LeBron has always been outspoken about issues of social injustice and has been a consistent voice in the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. But he’s decided to forgo having a social justice message on his jersey during the season restart, saying, “It's just something that didn't really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.”

  • Last week, the NBA and NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) released a list of approved messages that players could put on their jerseys in place of their last name (including “Vote,” “Equality” and “Justice”), but none of the options appealed to LeBron, who said he’d rather have been able to pick the message himself. Interesting.

Who will wear a jersey message?: Even though LeBron isn’t participating, the majority of the players will wear personalized statements on their backs, with over 80% of eligible players having already chosen their jersey message.

  • Milwaukee Buck Kyle Korver, who penned an op-ed for The Players' Tribune on the effects of white privilege in the NBA last year, decided he’ll wear “Black Lives Matter” on his jersey, saying, “Anything I would ever hope to convey on the back of a jersey is represented in these three words.”

When will we finally get to see these sweet jerseys?: Officially, not until July 30th, when the NBA’s return-to-play tips off at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Before then, each team will play three exhibition games between July 22nd and 28th, though broadcast and jersey details haven’t been announced just yet.