LeBron James to Not Change the Name on the Back of his Jersey
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James will not change the name on the back of his jersey.
As the NBA is set to return to play in just a few short weeks in Orlando, James will be one of the few players who will opt to keep his name instead of choosing a social justice message instead. The NBA has compiled a list of messages that players may choose to place on the back of their jerseys, including “Black Lives Matter”, “Vote”, and “Equality”.
“I actually didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” James said on a video conference call with reporters. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players. I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.
“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 part of that process, which is OK. I’m absolutely OK with that. … I don’t need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I’m about and what I’m here to do.”
As of this past week, 285 of the 350 eligible NBA players have picked a social justice message to put on their jerseys. James’ Lakers teammate, JaVale McGee, is among the players who will wear a message, opting to go with “Respect Us” on the back of his jersey.
“I definitely feel like respect is a key factor in social injustices,” McGee said Saturday. “I feel like we definitely need to get equality. We definitely need to get the same respect everybody else does.”
Despite not changing his the name on the back of the jersey, James has been the most prominent athlete to speak out on social reform for the majority of his NBA career. There is no question that James will continue to do his part in his community and fight the topic of racism.
“It never crossed my mind that we did not need to play this beautiful game of basketball that brings so many people together, that brings happiness, that brings joy,” James said. “I’m happy to have a platform where not only people will gain joy by the way I play the game, by the way our team plays the game, but for also for what I’m able to do off the court, as well.
“Being able to use my platform, use the NBA’s platform, to continue to talk about what’s going on. Because I will not stop until I see real change for us in Black America, for African Americans, for people of color. And I also believe I can do both, though.”
The Lakers will enter the bubble with a comfortable 5.5 game lead for the top spot in the Western Conference. Along with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, they will start off as one of the three clear favourites.
“It’s like we never left,” James said. “We picked right up where we left off.