Prior to Saturday’s bubble opener against the Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler offered a silent gesture. Rather than wearing a traditional jersey with nameplates, the former Marquette Golden Eagle wore a blank variant.
Butler was eventually asked to change into a jersey that include a nameplate, but his message had already been delivered. Like many other NBA players, he was highlighting social injustice — in his own way.
According to a report from the Miami Herald, all parties involved knew that Butler was planning to make this statement, including the Heat and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“We have the best leadership in professional sports between [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver and [National Basketball Players Association executive director] Michele Roberts,” Butler’s agent Bernie Lee said to the Miami Herald in advance of Tuesday’s game between the Heat and Boston Celtics at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. “For a few weeks leading into the first seeding game, we spoke about Jimmy’s choice often and the outcome you saw was the product of those conversations.
“While it’s not exactly what anyone wanted at the outset, the outcome was reflective of the times and how adaptable everyone has to be. I think Jimmy was provided a platform and opportunity to make a statement that was very important to him and powerful.”
Many players inside the bubble have chosen to stitch unique messages on the backs of their kits to highlight social injustices around the globe, which the NBA is onboard with. Butler, however, was hoping to play without a name on the back of his jersey.
Via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald:
He explained his jersey request in July by saying, “It’s going back to who I was. If I wasn’t who I was today, I’m no different than anybody else of color.”
All in all, it’s good that Butler is taking a stand on racial inequalities. He’ll have to wear a nameplate, but perhaps he can find another way to deliver his message as this season plays on.