The NBA’s Orlando bubble is bigger than basketball.
Twenty-two teams are putting their lives on hold in the middle of a global pandemic to play hoops, but also further the message of social justice that has gripped the United States over the last few months.
We learned earlier this week that Kent Bazemore chose the phrase “Education Reform” to wear on the back of his Kings uniform. After the first couple of games, Bazemore’s last name will be added below the statement.
On Saturday night following the Kings’ second practice in Orlando, both De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley shared the message they will wear.
Fox, sporting his new-look haircut, will have “Anti-Racist” on his jersey when games tip off on July 31.
“I chose anti-racists just because I think a lot of things stimulate from racism,” Fox said. “Baze is talking about education reform and things like that and I think it’s either blatant racism or systematic racism.”
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According to Fox, he had no reservations about taking part in the jersey plan. He’s become decidedly more vocal about all types of issues as he’s gotten comfortable in the league and he credits his father for that.
“A lot of the time, I say what needs to be heard,” Fox added. “I don’t feel like I’m stepping on anyone’s toes or anything like that.”
Bagley chose “Freedom” on the back of his jersey. The 21-year-old big man seemed to have a strong grasp of what the word means to him and why it stood out of the list of approved phrases.
“That one word means a lot to me whenever I see or hear it,” Bagley explained. “With all that’s going on, until African Americans have an equal playing field, we’re not free.”
Bagley was clear that he wants to learn a lot more about freedom and plans on educating himself. As a musician, he said he raps about freedom often.
“That’s something I believe we still have to work for,” Bagley said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. I don’t know it all. I still have to educate myself and I’m learning every day, but it’s definitely something I’m passionate about.”
In addition to his basketball equipment and clothes, Bagley brought his recording gear to Orlando. He plans on working on his music during the down time, which should be plentiful.
According to a Sean Cunningham of News 10, all 17 players on the Kings’ roster chose to participate in the league’s optional jersey statement.
While 17 NBA players, including LeBron James, decided not to put any social justice messages on the back of their jerseys, per sources. Source also tells me that all of the members of the Kings did select a message.— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) July 12, 2020
The messages, as well as the events surrounding the NBA’s restart, should be powerful.