Russell Westbrook to Sport 'Black Lives Matter' on Jersey in Orlando
Russell Westbrook and seven other Rockets will sport social justice messages on their jerseys in Orlando, per an NBA release.
Both Westbrook and forward Robert Covington will put "Black Lives Matter" on back of their respective jerseys. Michael Frazier and Eric Gordon will replace their last name with "Equality", while Bruno Caboclo and Chris Clemons' jerseys will feature the phrase "Justice now." Jeff Green will use "Vote" on his uniform.
The NBA announced on June 27 it would allow players to replace the last name on their jersey with a message supporting social justice. The league let players select their message from a list of approved phrases, a decision that drew criticism throughout the league. Covington and Rockets guard Austin Rivers both wanted to write "Trayvon" on their jersey in honor of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, but that request was denied by the NBA.
"I appreciate the NBA giving us an opportunity to change our last names on our jerseys. Small things like this can matter and go a long way," Rivers wrote on July 6. "But the options are really limited. I'm from Orlando, Fla., 25 minutes away from where Trayvon Martin was innocently shot and murdered. To this day that anger and pain from that senseless hate crime still resonates in our country. But especially here in Orlando."
"Would love to honor him and his family and help keep his name alive and strong. I want Trayvon on my back as I head to go lace 'em up in Orlando. Would mean a little something to all the people down there, especially his family and friends. He's gone but not forgotten. All little things matter in this fight for BLM."
Westbrook has been active on the social justice front during the NBA's COVID-19 hiatus. Houston's point guard spoke at the Compton Peace Walk on June 8, and he participated virtually in Tulsa's annual Juneteenth celebration on June 20.
"I challenge all you guys to continue to stick together," Westbrook told the crowd in Compton. "Continue to fight for one another, continue to lift one another up. Continue to protect your home, protect your team, protect your family. In times like this we need to stick together."
The Rockets will feature the social justice messages on their jerseys for the first time on Friday night as they face the Mavericks. Tip-off for Houston's first seeding game in Orlando is slated for 8 p.m. CT.