Jimmy Butler on Request to Wear Blank Jersey: 'I'm No Different Than Anybody Else of Color'

Jordan Cohn
July 15, 2020 - 8:14 am

The NBA has approved several messages which players can wear on the back of their jerseys in order to share their feelings and viewpoints on social justice. Among the most popular choices are "Equality," "Black Lives Matter," and "Vote."

It's not that Jimmy Butler doesn't believe in these messages. Actually, it's quite the contrary. But in order to spread the most potent message, Butler is deciding not to don any of the available messages and, on top of that, has requested to wear a jersey that doesn't even use his last name.

"I love and respect all the messages that the league did choose," Butler said (via Clay Ferraro of WPLG). "But for me, I felt that with no message, with no name, it's going back to... who I was. And if I wasn't who I was today, I'm no different than anybody else of color, and I want that to be my message, in the sense that just because I'm an NBA player, everybody has the same rights no matter what, and that's how I feel about my people of color."

It's a moving statement from Butler, a player known for being an outspoken leader and an especially passionate player. That much is clear not only from this statement about his choice of jersey, but also from his involvement in team meetings regarding experiences with racism and his fervent belief that "now is the time to change" (via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN). Another example of his passion and intensity? Take the noise complaint that Butler received for dribbling a basketball during an intense hotel room workout session as a great example.

According to Marc J. Spears of ESPN, 17 players, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis, opted to use their names on the back of their jerseys instead of an available social justice message for various reasons. However, Butler's request for a completely blank jersey is one that we hadn't heard up to this point.

Some of Butler's teammates have revealed which messages they are going to wear, including sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who is opting to don "Say Their Names" on the back of his uniform.

For a complete list of the choices NBA players -- including LeBron, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and more -- have made regarding their jerseys, check out our periodically updated list here.

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