Now that players are officially allowed to wear messages of social justice on their jerseys, two members of the Portland Trail Blazers have announced their chosen statements.
On Tuesday, Jul. 7, NBA Insider Chris Haynes released some of the messages that players will be displaying on their jerseys for the remainder of the season. Portland Trail Blazers players CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkić were among the first to share their jersey’s statement. McCollum will go with “Education Reform” while Nurkić has chosen “Equality.”
This follows an agreement made Jul. 3 which initially only allowed players to display messages for the first four days of league action, as reported by Marc J. Spears.
After further discussions between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), Haynes stated that players wanted “to make sure the statement is on the jersey throughout the whole season.”
While more Blazers are sure to join in sporting a message of social justice, it comes as no surprise that McCollum and Nurkić are some of the first to make the announcement.
McCollum serves as one of the six vice presidents of the NBPA, meaning he very well may have had a direct impact in the league’s decisions surrounding jersey messages.
His choice to specifically highlight education reflects on his actions as a youth advocate over the years. Since graduating from Lehigh University in 2013, McCollum has used his platform at the professional level to help young people of all kinds and ages. This includes hosting annual basketball camps and donating to his hometown’s community center, as well as starting CJ’s Press Pass, a program in which he mentors Portland high school students pursuing a career in journalism.
Having played in countries across the world, Nurkić’s chosen message of “Equality” seems to be a excellent fit. As a practicing Muslim from Bosnia and Herzegovina, his atypical background is a perfect reminder that sports have no borders.
Recently, reporter Jason Quick asked Carmelo Anthony what he would be wearing on his jersey. While Melo chuckled, saying “I’m still trying to figure that out,” he stated his message would be something “meaningful” to his life and beliefs.
Although players are now allowed to display messages of social justice throughout the remainder of the season, Haynes reported that some players have still expressed discontent with the limitations surrounding statement guidelines. According to Haynes, players will have 28 statements to choose from, including phrases such as “Black Lives Matter,” “Say Their Names,” “Sí Se Puede,” “ “Ally,” “I Am A Man,” and “Anti-Racist,” among others.
As of now, no other Portland Trail Blazers has announced their message of choice. However, given the recent displays of activism by individuals like Damian Lillard and Nassir Little, more players from the roster are sure to follow suit.