Many NBA players have been asked about their decision on whether to don a message on the back of their jerseys during the season restart in Orlando, and during a conference call with Raptors media on Thursday, wing Norman Powell explained why he decided on “Black Lives Matter” despite his frustration with the options made available by the league.
Powell called the messages “cookie-cutter,” and said he was “really disappointed” in what was available to players by the NBA. Among the options were “Vote” and “Black Lives Matter,” but nothing was customizable, leading some prominent players, including LeBron James, to opt out of using any of them. Still, Powell will wear “Black Lives Matter,” which he said was the best one of the bunch.
Pressing further, Powell said that because it’s players’ own names being replaced on the jersey, it should be up to them what goes in its place.
Powell, continued: "I wish there wasn't even a list. It's a topic where it's freedom of speech, and you're taking the name off the back of your jersey…We shouldn't be boxed in on a topic like this." Says it's YOUR name being removed, it should be YOUR message.
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) July 16, 2020
Asked what he would have picked if it were up to him, Powell said he would have chosen the phrase “Am I Next?” in a nod to the countless deaths of Black people at the hands of the police and other killers in this country. Many players in the weeks since George Floyd’s death have shared their own experiences with police brutality and shared their fear over being the next victim, which would have been a powerful statement from Powell on the court.