NBA players throughout the league will promote Black Lives Matter with messages of racial equality and social justice on their jerseys when play resumes later this month at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said Saturday he has chosen not to participate, but at least three members of the Kings organization have joined the movement.
Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox said he chose “Anti-Racist” from the list of the NBA’s approved messages. Kent Bazemore chose “Education Reform.” Marvin Bagley III chose “Freedom.”
Fox and Bagley discussed their choices in a Zoom call with reporters Saturday following the team’s second practice inside the NBA bubble.
“I picked Freedom,” Bagley said. “That’s what’s going to be on my jersey. That one words means a lot to me, whenever I see it or hear it. There’s a lot going on, and with all of this going on, until African Americans have an equal playing field, we’re not free.”
Fox said he made his choice following discussions with Bazemore.
“Baze was talking about education reform and things like that, and I think it’s all racism — blatant racism or systematic racism — so that’s why I picked anti-racist for my jersey,” Fox said. “I think it touches a lot of bases.”
Kings coach Luke Walton said the organization supports whatever decisions its players makes.
“A change needs to happen,” Walton said. “The way I was raised, you stand up for what you believe in, and the players more so now than ever have a platform to speak on, and we encourage our players as individuals to stand up for what they believe in. As a team, I think the Sacramento Kings do a really nice job of getting out and getting involved in the community as well. We want to make sure our players know we’re supportive. We don’t force anyone to say anything, but for whatever points need to be made we’re here for them and I think we all agree there’s a lot of change that needs to happen for us to continue moving in the right direction.”
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed last month to give each player the option of replacing the nameplate on his jersey with one of 29 approved social justice messages. The list includes Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I Can’t Breathe, Justice, Peace, Equality and Freedom.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Kyle Korver, who penned an essay on racism and white privilege in April, has chosen to put “Black Lives Matter” on his jersey, according to Yahoo Sports.
James said he chose not to use one of the approved slogans, explaining he will continue to sport his last name on the back of his jersey while supporting social justice issues in other ways. James said he had slogan ideas he would have considered putting on his jersey, but he was not consulted regarding the list of approved messages, although he said he wasn’t bothered by that.
“I actually didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey, and it’s no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players,” James said during a Zoom call with reporters Saturday. “I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. … I would have loved to have a say so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind, but I wasn’t a part of that process, and that’s OK.”
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