Nine Wizards will use their platform to promote change by wearing social justice messages on their jerseys when the NBA resumes on July 30.
As a part of the league’s efforts to address racism and issues of social justice in America, the NBA permitted players to replace the names on the back of their jerseys with a social justice statement during the league’s return to play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla.
The NBA and NBPA agreed to a list of 29 approved statements that players could wear instead of their names: 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.
On Wednesday, the Wizards announced the players who will be wearing these messages, which word or phrase they chose and why. Isaac Bonga, Troy Brown Jr., Ian Mahinmi, Shabazz Napier, Anzejs Pasecniks, Jerome Robinson, Admiral Schofield, Mortiz Wagner and Johnathan Williams will all take part in the league’s unique effort.
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Isaac Bonga –– “Freedom”
“I chose ‘FREEDOM’ on the back of my jersey because I think it is time for us to be free,” Bonga said. “We should leave the past in the past and learn from our mistakes, because I think if you do that, you’re going to grow as a collective, but also grow as human beings. I think if you do that, we should start teaching the next generation, teaching our kids about being free and how to love each other. I think that’s why I chose ‘FREEDOM.’
Troy Brown Jr. –– “Black Lives Matter”
“I put ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ on the back of my jersey just to reiterate the social injustices that have been going on in our country and just to remind people that just because we’re in the bubble doesn’t mean we forgot about everything that’s going on,” Brown Jr. said.
Ian Mahinmi –– “Vote”
“I picked ‘VOTE’ to be the message on the back of my jersey,” Mahinmi said. “Initially, I wanted to put ‘vote locally,’ because I am a believer in voting locally. I almost think that it has more of an impact on your life than the presidential elections. That was my message. I believe that in the system that we live in, it is the most accurate way to demand change, so I wanted to put that message and I appreciate the opportunity.”
Voting rights and awareness have become an especially important issue for Mahinmi who spent the last week raising awareness on his social media for the elections in Texas. He also has played a major role in the discussion about using Capital One Arena as a polling center for the election this November.
Shabazz Napier –– “Equality”
“In this world, at the moment right now, we’re fighting amongst each other,” Napier said. “Whether it’s black or white or women or men. I think for us to understand that everybody should be held at an equal standard, not matter the race, no matter the gender. I think that speaks loudly to me. I was raised by my mother only, so I understand the trials and tribulations that women go through on a daily basis to a certain extent – obviously I’m not a female. I think that is very important, as much as the black and white…same for (the LGBTQ) community and their equal rights. That means a lot. I think if you can handle that down, sooner or later, things will come to fruition where we live in a positive world.”
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Anzejs Pasecniks –– “Equality”
“I chose to have ‘EQUALITY’ on my back just as a simple reminder to treat every single person the same way,” Pasecniks said. “It doesn’t matter what color you are, what language you speak or where you’re from.”
Jerome Robinson –– “Black Lives Matter”
“I put ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ on the back of my jersey because I think that is the biggest symbol of representation of what we have going on right now,” Robinson said. “Through the whole quarantine, with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, etc. and the amount of people that were murdered for no reason at all or for terrible reasoning. I think it’s the biggest symbol on one of the biggest platforms, so ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ will be on the back of my jersey.”
Admiral Schofield –– “Enough”
“I chose ‘ENOUGH’ on the back of my jersey because it’s time for people to be more aware,” Schofield said. “It’s time for people to stop making excuses. It’s time for people to stop being uncomfortable with uncomfortable situations. Enough is enough. I think it’s time for us to sit at the table and create change. Change is only going to be created by us who are willing to do so, who are willing to sit and have the hard conversations. Black lives matter to me because I am a black man in America. I am a British American. One of the things that I’ve experienced in this country is pure racism, systematic racism – and it has to stop. So enough is enough.”
Moritz Wagner –– “Vote”
“I chose ‘VOTE’ to put on the back of my jersey because I think it is very important that everybody expresses their opinion,” Wagner said. “Even if you don’t go vote, you’re basically submitting a vote. I feel like, coming from Europe, not a lot of people participate in politics over here in the United States. I feel like now, more than ever, the urgency is a high as it’s ever been. I encourage everybody to go vote. I would vote if I could here in the states.”
RACE IN AMERICA: WATCH THE FULL ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION HERE
Johnathan Williams –– “Say Her Name”
“I chose ‘SAY HER NAME,” Williams said. “The reason behind it was because of the Breonna Taylor incident where she lost her life while she was sleeping in bed. I just want to say her name because I think that’s really important. We need to continue to praise our women in and show them love. That’s what I believe.”
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