As NBA games return July 30, players across the league have the option to replace the last names on their jersey with social justice messages. And commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday said the approved choices were a joint effort from the league and the players association’s executive board.
But upon seeing the list, players like Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics guard and NBPA vice president, were disappointed players were being limited to 29 approved messages.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott went as far as calling the list “terrible,” alleging players never had a chance to voice their opinion on what was included.
Silver discussed the list further after being asked if the NBA would allow players to put pro-Hong Kong messages on their jerseys while speaking during Fortune Magazine’s Brainstorm Health web conference. Here’s how the commissioner answered, as transcribed by Sopan Deb of the New York Times:
I take issue with the word “allow,” only because this list came about largely from the players in partnership with the league,” And I think it was a recognition that we’re living in extraordinary times right now and what we’re attempting to do by coming back in the midst of a pandemic, a recession, possibly worse, and a large amount of social unrest, the players felt it was very important that they have an opportunity outside the normal boundaries of the league to express their heartfelt views on a particular issue. And those were issues around racism and social justice. And so, again, rather than this notion that we “allowed” it, we sat down with the executive committee of the Players Association, they proposed particular terms to us and we worked through it with them that those messages would be included on their jerseys. And incidentally, I understand people could differ but I don’t view them as political messages.
Silver diverted from the Hong Kong storyline as best he could, trying to avoid the drama that unfolded earlier this season after Chinese state television blacked out NBA games in response to Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey’s support of Hong Kong protesters.
Still, it’s questionable that a player as influential as Brown, considering his role within the NBPA, didn’t even approve of the list. His argument was that the league was imposing a new limitation on a movement that’s supposed to be about liberation of oppression.
Time will tell if it the new jersey policy will be modified.