The Philadelphia 76ers will have six players participating in the NBA’s uniform initiative.
The NBA season resumes tonight, and with it comes our first exposure to one of the NBA’s most notable social justice initiatives. The league gave players a list of social justice messages to place on the backs of jerseys inside the bubble. You can read the full list of players’ picks at NBA.com.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, the initiative was met with considerable push-back. Mike Scott and Al Horford publicly criticized the lack of player participation in the league’s formation of the list, and Scott went as far as to call it a “bad list.” Joel Embiid also publicly stated he would not participate.
According to the NBA’s final tally, only six members of the Philadelphia 76ers will participate — by far the fewest of any team in the league.
- Alec Burks — ENOUGH
- Furkan Korkmaz — EQUALITY
- Raul Neto — EQUALITY
- Kyle O’Quinn — HEAR US
- Josh Richardson — SAY THEIR NAMES
- Matisse Thybulle — VOTE
This is notable, of course, but not for the reasons some might assume. This does not mean the Sixers are passive in the fight for change. In fact, it means the very opposite. It means Philadelphia aspires to create the kind of change — to the take the kind of action — that cannot be accomplished by words on a uniform.
The NBA’s social justice initiatives are a positive step, and it’s important to give players a platform to speak on these issues. The league has plastered ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ across the courts in Orlando, and the league will also auction off the uniforms from opening week to create a social justice fund.
For Philadelphia, however, the fight for change goes beyond uniforms. It’s about making real change, and pushing the conversation in new ways while congregated inside the NBA’s bubble. In a recent episode of Matisse Thybulle’s YouTube vlog, he, Kyle O’Quinn, and Tobias Harris had a lengthy conversation about how the Sixers can create change as a group. I suggest you watch it.
We have seen teams around the league take different approaches to the issues at hand. The Dallas Mavericks, for example, will have the same word — ‘EQUALITY’ — on the back of every uniform. The Toronto Raptors drove through Florida with ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ on their busses. The Sixers are not the only team looking to push this conversation forward. This is an ongoing fight for everyone involved.
You can expect Harris, Thybulle, O’Quinn, Scott, Horford, Embiid, Simmons, and everyone on the roster to continue exploring new avenues to inspire change, have difficult conversations, and use the Sixers’ platform. It’s important that this season in Orlando isn’t just about basketball, and the Sixers are making sure it isn’t.