Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard is typically tight-lipped when it comes to issues unrelated to basketball, but the defending NBA Finals MVP recently spoke out about the league’s new rule that allows players to replace their last names with messages supporting social causes.
Kawhi speaks out. pic.twitter.com/mAWAZhYtYu
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 13, 2020
While there has been widespread support for the NBA’s decision to allow its players to promote social statements, Leonard seems to be diving into something a bit deeper.
For the last few months, the United States has been wrestling with the institutional racism that exists in its society.
The NBA and many of its stars have played a central role, partly because some of the league’s stars are some of the most famous black men in the country.
Interestingly, it seems as though neither James, nor Leonard, will be changing the names on their jerseys when the 2019-20 season starts back up later this month.
James explained his reasoning for sticking with his own last name when speaking with reporters recently.
“I actually didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” James said. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players. I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.
“I would have loved to have a say-so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process, which is OK. I’m absolutely OK with that. … I don’t need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I’m about and what I’m here to do.”
Instead, the two seem dedicated to enacting more fundamental change by empowering communities and educating people.
Leonard and James will face one another on July 30, when the Lakers take on the Clippers in Orlando, Fla.