"Equality" is the most popular social justice message players have chosen to display on the backs of their NBA jerseys for the league's upcoming restart, National Basketball Players' Association executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN's The Undefeated on Wednesday. "Black Lives Matter" is second.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 285 of the expected 350 eligible NBA players have picked a social justice message to put on their jerseys while 17 have opted to continue to use their names instead, Roberts told The Undefeated. Although the soft deadline was Monday, she said the NBPA is waiting for more players to make a final decision. NBA jerseys are made by Nike.
"The players have taken this seriously with what they're going to put on their jerseys, understanding that they were going to have a platform giving a message to a wide variety of people," Roberts told The Undefeated. "Given the large number of guys that are participating, I think these men appreciate that this is a chance to do exactly what they wanted to do. Keep the conversation going.
"The guys are excited to get back to the game. Hopefully, we can work to have some great basketball and give some great messages."
The personalized statements are part of a long list of social justice messages the players plan to deliver over the remainder of the season, which will restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida, on July 30. The NBPA and the NBA reached an agreement last week on social justice messages that can be displayed above the numbers on the backs of jerseys.
The list of the suggested messages that were agreed on by the NBPA and the NBA and then made available to players via email, per the source, are: 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.
Roberts said there also will be social justice messages on jerseys in languages other than English, including Slovenian, Italian, French Creole, Latvian, Mori, Hebrew, Bosnian and Portuguese. Oklahoma City Thunder guard and NBPA executive director Chris Paul plans to have "EQUALITY" on the back of his jersey.