The NBA has allowed their players to choose from a premade list of social justice messages to wear on the back of their jerseys, and several Brooklyn Nets have unveiled their choice.
French forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, for example, will wear “Liberté” on the back of his jersey. It’s short for the French motto, “Liberté, égalité, et fraternité,” or freedom, equality and fraternity.
“I think freedom means a lot to everybody especially right now,” Cabarrot said. “I think that’s something that is due to everybody and everybody deserves it, so that’s what I’m going to wear on the back of my jersey.”
Caris LeVert has chosen to wear “Black Lives Matter” on the back of his jersey, and Joe Harris submitted two choices: The first was “Equality,” and the second was “Vote.”
Nets veteran guard Garrett Temple had a different approach. Temple appeared in a virtual interview with CNN Newsroom where he unveiled his choice to don ‘Education Reform’ on the back of his jersey.
Temple, who doubles as a Vice President for the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), said education is a pathway to create real, tangible change in the communities players come from.
“We in the Black community have been marginalized so much, there’s so many different things that need to change in order to allow us to get better chances. I think that education is something that’s very much needed. It’s fallen by the wayside in most cases,” he said. “The public-school system isn’t nearly where it needs to be in a country as powerful as ours. Allowing people to be educated, allowing people to learn more things, maybe even changing some curriculum to make things more applicable to real-life scenarios, I think is something that really needs to happen.
“And give people more of an opportunity, once they get out of school, to use that education to make a better living for themselves and be contributors to society in an economic way. So education has been very important to me and my family. I know how much it can help and change someone’s life.”
Education isn’t only for the youth, either.
As the focus shifts from protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis back to basketball, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn has tried to keep his players informed as a method of keeping the conversation alive.
“That is really the true challenge. The basketball part will be easy, but to continue to invest in the bigger picture and the broader message to our entire group, and that comes through education,” Vaughn said. “We’ll continue to push that as an organization. It is definitely on the forethought of our coaching staff, our GM, our ownership. It will not be removed because the ball is bouncing again.”
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