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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, drives to the basket towards Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

The NBA announced late last week that when the league begins its shortened 2020 season on July 30, players will have the option to replace their name on their jersey with a “social justice” statement.

On Friday, an approved list of 29 statements agreed upon by both the league and the players union was released to the media. We’ll get to the list in a moment, but first let’s revisit the background.

As we reported earlier in the week, the league and the union had been in discussions to allow players to wear the statements on their jerseys in support of — or opposition to — the social issue of their choice.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul, president of the NBPA — National Basketball Players Association — explained the “rationale” of the temporary name change and its importance to players, this way:

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,” liberal media types like CNN anchor Ana Cabrera and others were all-in on the name change, suggesting that a number of players have been “concerned” that resumed play would become 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.”

And now… drumroll please…

The moment we’ve all been awaiting — with bated breath and great expectations — has finally arrived. Here’s the official list of the 29 social justice statements from which players can choose to express their support of — or opposition to — the issue of their choice:

Black Lives Matter
Say Her Name
Say Their Names
Vote
I Can’t Breathe
Justice
Peace
Equality
Freedom
Enough
Power to the People
Justice Now
Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can)
Liberation
See Us
Hear Us
Respect Us
Love Us
Listen
Listen to Us
Stand Up
Ally
Anti-Racist
I Am A Man
Speak Up
How Many More
Group Economics
Education Reform
Mentor

As reported by ESPN, the messages will be displayed above the player’s number during the first four games of the season restart in Orlando.

Players will have a first and second choice, which suggests there will be a push to display as many “social justice” statements as possible, but will not be forced — let’s just go with “strongly encouraged” — to wear a message, and will be allowed display their name.

I predict there will be zero “abstentions.”

If a player is brave enough to decline to participate in the protest, his name will appear in its regular space. After the first four nights, players can opt to go back to their name. If they choose to continue displaying a social message, their name will appear below their number.

“Shockingly,” as you can see, neither “All Lives Matter,” nor “Free Hong Kong” made the cut. Although, interestingly, I was surprised to see “mentor” included. You ‘spose it will make the “top 28”?

Mike Miller
Political junkie. Former senior writer and editor at Independent Journal Review. Realist. Slayer of hypocrisy. Sports lover (except for soccer, of course). Insufferable pizza snob.
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