The NBA is back and the players brought their social justice messages. On Saturday, the entire Oklahoma City Thunder team knelt while wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts during the National Anthem before the start of their first official game since the NBA restarted.
Many of the league’s players have also opted to take the NBA up on an offer to replace the last name appearing on the back of their jerseys with an expression of political change and/or a social justice message. The league and the players union agreed on 29 statements that could be worn during the first four days of the league’s resumption: 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.
For international players like Haitian-Canadian Luguentz Dort, they were also given an opportunity to translate their message in their native tongue, so Dort chose “Respekte Nou” which means “Respect Us” in Kreyol. Dort who was born in Montreal, Quebec to Haitian parents felt the message would reach the diaspora all over the world, from Montreal to Haiti, while staying true to his culture and origins.
Last month, the Oklahoma City Thunder signed Dort to a multi-year contract. Dort, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent, impressed this season with the Thunder, particularly on the defensive end and started 21 of 29 games.
The Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz 110-94 in Orlando, Fla., where all NBA games are being played for the remainder of the season. The 2019-20 NBA season officially restarted on Thursday, July 30, after being interrupted in March by the COVID-19 pandemic.