Chris Paul supports players opting out of putting social justice message on jerseys
Chris Paul is among a large contingent of NBA players choosing to take advantage of the option to put a social justice message on their jerseys during the NBA’s resumption of play in the Orlando, Fla., bubble beginning Thursday.
Some high-profile players, however, have opted out. Among those who are declining to put one of the NBA’s pre-approved messages on their jerseys are LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid.
Paul believes those players’ rights not to have a social justice message on their jersey is as important as his decision to do so.
“That’s exactly why we have a league where you get a chance to make a choice,” Paul said. “And I respect any of those guys’ decisions. They may have their reasons why or not.
“For me … I was excited about the opportunity to speak on ‘Equality’ because I was asked about it. And also, for me, I envisioned my kids watching the game, my homies back home who go to the barbershops and talk about us and whatnot.”
The NBA offered around 20 words or phrases as options for players. Some of the players who declined to choose one of the messages cited the limits the league placed on acceptable words or phrases as the reason for not doing so.
Just because a player opted against using one of the pre-approved options does not mean they will not use their platform afforded by the NBA’s restart to speak out against issues like systemic racism, police misconduct and social injustice.
For instance, James, arguably one of the most socially and politically active professional athletes of his or any other era, insisted his decision not to wear a jersey bearing a social justice message won’t inhibit him from his customary activism in the bubble.
“I will not stop until I see real change for us, for all people of color,” James said earlier this month of his jersey decision as the Lakers prepared for the NBA restart at the Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. “I will continue to push the envelope and continue to keep my foot on the gas on creating real change for us.”