NBA players have the option to replace their last names with messages related to social justice for the rest of the 2019-20 season.
However, Miami Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler doesn’t want his last name or a message related to social justice on his jersey. Instead, he wants the back of his jersey to be left blank.
The Heat star offered a profound reason why.
Jimmy Butler says he won’t wear anything on the back of his jersey. Not even his name. Wants it blank as his own social justice message. He feels like it represents who he would be if he weren’t a basketball player. pic.twitter.com/2I4vJUpL7x
— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) July 14, 2020
“I have decided not to,” Butler said regarding putting a message of social justice on his jersey. “With that being said, I hope that my last name doesn’t go on there as well. Just because I love and respect all the messages that the league did choose, but for me, I felt like with no message, with no name, it’s going back to who I was. If I wasn’t who I was today. I’m no different than anybody else of color, and I want that to be my message in the sense that just because I’m an NBA player, everybody has the same rights no matter what. That’s how I feel about my people of color.”
Butler’s message is especially poignant given his humble beginnings.
At the age of 13, Butler was kicked out of his home by his biological mother and went on to bounce from one friend’s home to another until his senior year of high school.
Then, Butler was taken in by the mother of one of his friends and finally given a secure home before he went on to become a college basketball star at Marquette University.
Butler surely knows hardship and knows how much he had to overcome to have his name on the back of a Heat uniform.
His message, or lack thereof, seems to be dedicated to the nameless men and women of color who struggle through inequality and institutional racism every day.
At this point, it is unclear if Butler’s desire will be approved by the league.