According to ESPN, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association will paint Black Lives Matter on court sidelines in Florida when then league resumes its 2019-2020 season next month. The news follows players’ calls to replace their last names on jerseys with social justice statements, which the league approved on Saturday (June 27).
“NBPA sent players initial details on the plan tonight, stating it is working with the league and Nike,” Shams Charania of The Athletic said in a statement. “The NBA and the players union have been discussing various ways to allow players to express social justice issues in season restart.”
The WNBA is also reportedly looking to paint Black Lives Matter on their courts when they resume for games in Florida. Players of the league are also in talks about adding “Say Her Name” to their warm-up gear, in an effort to keep nationwide attention on female victims of police brutality, such as Breonna Taylor.
Some athletes, like Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard, have argued to cancel the 2019-2020 season in light of the current reform movement, while others, like the WNBA’s Renee Montgomery and Natasha Cloud, have decided to sit the season out in order to focus on activism efforts.
During the 2020 Espy Awards, NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and WNBA player Sue Bird explained that if sports do resume, they must reflect the current climate.
“As millions of people of all colors protest, I see a world of hurt, pain and despair. But I also see a new generation,” show co-host Wilson said during his speech. “A generation that is calling out in desperate need for lasting change. To my white teammates and friends, we need you to lead, too. Don’t just listen, help.”
“Do Black lives matter to you when they’re not throwing touchdowns, grabbing rebounds, serving aces?” added Bird. “Colin Kaepernick never shied away. He knew that discomfort was essential for liberation. Fighting the oppression against Black people is bigger than sports...Our return must be part of the fight for justice.”