When the NBA comes back, most players’ jerseys will look a little different — but LeBron James’ won’t.
While most athletes have elected to include one of the NBA’s approved social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, the three-time NBA champion has opted to keep his own name.
“I actually didn’t go with a [message] on the back of my jersey,” the Los Angeles Laker said in a video call with reporters on Saturday. “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 had a couple things in mind but I wasn’t part of that process and that’s OK.”
“I would have loved to have a say so on what would have went on the back of the jersey, but I’m OK with that,” he added. “I don’t need to have something on the back of the jersey for people to understand my mission and what I’m about.”
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The NBA’s approved list of messages includes: Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I Can’t Breathe, Justice, Peace, Equality, Freedom, Enough, Power to the People, Justice Now, Say Her Name, Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can), Liberation, See Us, Hear Us, Respect Us, Love Us, Listen, Listen to Us, Stand Up, Ally, Anti-Racist, I Am A Man, Speak Up, How Many More, Group Economics, Education Reform and Mentor.
According to ESPN, 285 of the expected 350 eligible NBA players have selected one of the above messages, with 17 opting to choose their name instead. Few players have revealed what messages they’ve chosen for the backs of their jerseys.
Over the years, James has been an active voice when it comes to social justice issues. Through his More Than a Vote organization, which teamed up with Coach in June, James worked to combat voter suppression within the Black community. The LeBron James Family Foundation’s “I Promise” program provides more than 1,400 students in the Nike-backed star’s hometown of Akron, Ohio, with the resources and support to help them achieve success in school and beyond. In addition, James has long been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.