LeBron James Explains Why He Will Not Wear A Social Justice Message On His Jersey

LeBron James has long used his platform to speak out against racial injustice and inequality. He made it clear prior to the Lakers’ first practice in Orlando on Saturday that he will continue to do so, even while stuck in the bubble city.

What James won’t do is wear a social justice message on his jersey, as most players around the league reportedly have chosen to do.

“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey,” James said. “It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal. I would have loved to have the 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.”

NBA players have the option to add one of 29 approved phrases — including “Black Lives Matter” and “Equality” — to the backs of their jerseys. It was apart of the negotiations of the resumption of play.

285 of the 350 players expected to be in Orlando, more than 80 percent, have chose to wear a message when the games begin. James will be in the minority with his decision, but he remains focused on his commitment to the Black community.

“This is the mission that I’ve been on for a long time now,” James said. “And it’s great that now a lot of people’s ears are opening, a lot of people are understanding, a lot of people are recognizing.  A lot of people still don’t get it and a lot of people are still afraid to talk about it, but the racism that goes on in America, especially for my people, people of color, it’s still here.”

James’ influence and commitment to the black community has been well documented over the years. For more than a decade, James has been one of the most vocal athletes in the American sports when it comes to matters of race, injustice and education in minority communities.

In 2012, he tweeted a photo of him and Miami Heat teammates standing with their sweatshirt hoods pulled over their heads following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. In 2016, following the death of Eric Garner in New York, James was among the many NBA players to wear a shirt that read, “I can’t breathe,” during pregame warmups. Then in 2018, James founded the I Promise School, committed to serving children in need in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

For James to pass on the opportunity to be part of the unprecedented movement to wear a social justice message on his Nike jersey was shocking to hear, but at second glance it was understandable. James has always been one to lead the way, and speak his truth. For him to be restricted to a list of statements to choose from isn’t the James’ way.

James said he “had a couple things in mind” to wear on his jersey, but that he was not part of the process between the players’ association and the league in coming up with the list.

“Everything that I do has a purpose, it has a meaning,” James said. “So, 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.”

James wasn’t the only Lakers player who had an issue with the limited statements available. Center JaVale McGee came out and said he would have liked to wear “Respect Us” on the back of his jersey.

“I definitely feel like respect is a key factor in social injustices,” he said. “I feel like we definitely need to get equality, we definitely need to get the same respect everybody else does. It’s just a blessing to have this platform and the NBA doing everything they’re doing to help also.”

While the teams focus is on winning a championship, make no mistake about it, their minds and hearts remain with those fighting for equality.

In Case You Missed It

NBA Teams Report To Disney World: What Life Will Be Like On and Off The Court

David Price Opted out of the 2020 Season: What This Means For The Dodgers and Price


Leave a Reply