No, this is not a satire piece from The Onion or The Babylon Bee. That’s actually a legit headline, up there. Shocked? Me neither.
The NBA has announced that when the league begins its shortened 2020 season in Orlando on July 30, players will have the option to replace their name on their jersey with a “social justice” statement.
The league and the National Basketball Players Association had been in discussions to allow players to wear social justice messages on their jerseys, according to a report by ESPN on Saturday night.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association, told ESPN’s “The Undefeated” on Saturday that the players’ union and the league are collaborating to allow players to wear jerseys with personalized social justice, social cause or charity messages on the backs instead of their last names during the upcoming restart of the NBA season.
I’ll go out on a limb and predict that there will be exactly zero “charity messages” on the backs of those Jerseys, come July 30. Anyway, Paul explained the reasoning behind the name change option.
“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. People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”
“Shockingly,” CNN anchor Ana Cabrera is all in on the name change, suggesting that a number of players have been “concerned” about resuming a game for which they’re paid millions of dollars becoming a distraction from the business at a hand: the “social justice movement.”
“As many [NBA players] are set to return to action in less that two weeks in Orlando, Florida, for a return to action, a number of players have expressed their concern that a return to action may distract from the social justice movement taking place around the country and in some cases, the world.”
Michael Rubin, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, told Cabrera he thinks the name change will help bring the country together.
“To be able to use your platform and your brand, the NBA, your team to help bring the country together is something that a lot of people care deeply about.”
“To be able to use your platform and your brand, the NBA, your team to help bring the country together is something that a lot of people care deeply about.” –@MichaelGRubin on a report that NBA players may be allowed to use their jerseys to make a statement on social justice. pic.twitter.com/psw4Yl6AAy
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) June 28, 2020
Paul told ESPN he has talked to numerous players, including some who are not black, who are also all in on the jersey idea.
While Paul said players will not be forced or pressured to wear jerseys with social justice messages, it’s hard to imagine that being true.
One need only look back to the firestorm created by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees after he expressed his love and respect for the American flag, saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
After intense pressure from other NFL players, including members of his own team, Brees obligatorily trotted out two apologies; the second in which he declared he was wrong, and that he “will do better.”
Paul said players looking for a cause to support will be “offered suggestions.” [Writer rolls eyes.]
The league’s announcement comes on the heels of a call by former NBA player Stephen Jackson — who says he was friends with George Floyd — to forego the entire 2020 season because it would “take the attention off what we [sic] fighting for”, as we reported, earlier this month.
Jackson said, in part:
What up, world? I love the NBA, man. That was my family, but now ain’t the time to be playing basketball, y’all. Now ain’t the time. Playing basketball is gonna do one thing, take all the attention off the task at hand right now, what we fighting for.
Everybody gonna be worried about the playoffs. They gonna have all that blasted all over the TV, and nobody’s gonna be talking about getting justice for all these senseless murders by the police and nobody’s gonna be focused on the task at hand, bro.
None of these white owners have spoken up. None of ’em are taking a stand. Yeah, they might post a video when the season start of saying what we should do, but they ain’t doing nothing.
Playing basketball ain’t gonna do nothin’ but make them money and take the attention off what we fighting for, what we marching for. It’s bigger than all of us, and it’s bigger than the game. I’m sad that we still gotta explain that to people, bro.
“Just the truth,” Jackson said. “Y’all don’t like the truth.”
And “the truth” we now have — like it or not.
While Jackson and others have suggested the league and “white” team owners are only concerned with making money, it appears that making money doesn’t sound like all that bad of an idea to players, either.
And what better way to make millions of dollars than by playing a game you love to play, while continuing your protest by emblazoning “social justice” messages across the back of your jersey while playing it?