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Chris Paul explains idea to have personalized NBA jerseys to advance social justice causes

Chris Paul, Thunder, NBA

The NBA is scheduled to resume game action in a little over a month. One of the biggest concerns for players is how the return to play might take the spotlight away from the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept the country as of late. Chris Paul and the National Basketball Players Association have discussed at least one way to make sure players’ voices can be heard during the restart: customized jerseys.

The NBPA and league officials are in talks to allow personalized jerseys that promote social justice, social movements, or messages in support of charitable causes to be written on the backs of in-game jerseys. An agreement between the league and its players to fully support the fight against systemic racism is already set in stone, but exact details are still being discussed.

The jersey design change is just one idea from a long list of different plans for NBA players to use their platform as a mouthpiece for social reform. Paul talked to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears about why the players are doing this:

“We’re just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice issues that guys around our league continue to talk about day in and day out,” NBPA president Chris Paul told The Undefeated. “People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”

Paul has discussed the idea of the personalized jerseys with multiple players, including some who are not Black. While players will not be forced to participate in this with their jerseys, the plan was been met with utmost support from the majority of players, with Paul saying they’re “excited” about the idea:

“The guys I talked to were definitely excited,” Paul said. “The reason I’m passionate and excited about it is that it gives a voice to the voiceless. It also gives guys a chance to shine a light on something they are passionate about. Otherwise, they may not have been given a chance to express themselves.”

Beyond just voicing out concerns, the NBA has looked internally to see what they can do better to create more diversity inside the organization. While the NBA is comprised of 74.9% Black players, the splits for administrative positions are not even close. Adam Silver has spoken up and said the league “has work to do” in order to address this.

While basketball is coming soon, it’s clear the players have more than just the game on their minds.