The NBA is back, and players are out there making statements in honor of Black Lives Matter. Jimmy Butler's idea, though, of a blank jersey to signify that if he wasn't THE Jimmy Butler, he'd be the same as everyone else, was not approved by the NBA.
About this move, Butler said,
"Just because I love and respect all the messages that the league did choose, but for me, I felt like with no message, with no name, it's going back to, like, who I was. And if I wasn't who I was today, I'm no different than anybody else of color and want that to be my message in the sense that just because I'm an NBA player, everybody has the same right, no matter what, and that's how I feel about my people of color."
Butler was only asked, though, to change his jersey before the official start of the game, meaning that viewers around the country still saw his nameless jersey.
Statement made. #BlackLivesMatter @JimmyButler https://t.co/HKT63unwoz— x - Miami HEAT (@x - Miami HEAT)1596302516.0
Butler even commented on it himself, sharing his heart behind why he wanted to wear a jersey without a name on it.
The lack of words @JimmyButler hopes you'll see on the back of his jersey is a statement within itself.… https://t.co/5Hvdhd2sfQ— x - Miami HEAT (@x - Miami HEAT)1594765153.0
And I have to be honest: I'm not thrilled at all that the NBA didn't let Butler wear his nameless jersey.
Butler has fought his whole life, and for those who don't know his story, you should read up on it. His father was never involved in his life, and his mom kicked him out at age 13 and said, "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go."
Butler couch surfed from house to house throughout the years until his friend's mom took him in as her own. The odds he has overcome to be where he is at are absolutely insane, and they are a testament to his hard work and dedication.
To deny him the opportunity to stand up for Black Lives Matter in a way that is meaningful and impactful to his story and who he is as a person because of what he has been through over the years is vain and insensitive. Every person across the globe right now is dealing with and comprehending the events of the last few months in their own unique way, and just because Butler is a basketball player, doesn't mean he's any less human or feels less emotions than the average everyday person.
And that's the whole point.
By taking his name off of his jersey, he's no longer Jimmy Butler the NBA star. He's just another guy. He's another guy remembering and realizing and proving that if he didn't have that name on his back, he very well could have become another statistic.
Black Lives Matter isn't just a trendy saying, it's real life for so many people in this country, and when the NBA is largely made up of players who identify as Black... nearly 75 percent to be exact. NBA players shouldn't be limited in how they stand up for what they believe to be right, especially when it's a part of their story.
Sorry to say, but Jimmy was right, the NBA, however, was wrong. Advocacy trumps procedure any day of the week.