This year, the NBA has gone beyond an exciting game lineup to celebrate the Martin Luther King Day. Keeping in mind their social message and the MLK assasination and activism, the league once again reunited for another meaningful cause. While teams had their own ways to tribute the American activist, all players chose to wear a special warm-up t-shirt for Martin Luther King Day.
Before games, players of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns and more chose to wear a special shirt to honour him. The t-shirt features a quote from his impactful and unforgettable "I Have a Dream" speech – "Now is the time to make justice a reality for all". At the back, Dr King's signature lines up with the words "HONOR KING".
Our league, the values and teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr, are inextricably linked. Today we will pay respect to the life and legacy of MLK through stories of unity, togetherness and equality. #MLKDay— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2021
The t-shirts put across two messages, one honour Martin Luther King, while the other represents the players' efforts to make an impact on social injustice since last summer. "Both messages are printed in a font derived from the carrying signs used in Dr King Jr.'s memorial march on April 8, 1968," says a press release. Their tribute strengthens their stand for equality, coming when the USA looks at social unrest – which began with George Floyd's death last May.
Per reports, the t-shirt was made in collaboration with the NBA, MLK Foundation and Martin Luther King III.
“He laid the foundation of what we’re fighting for today.”— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 18, 2021
The NBA community reflects on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. pic.twitter.com/D7lhQCNODg
The @ATLHawks wore their "MLK City Edition” jerseys for the first time tonight.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 18, 2021
The uniforms honor Martin Luther King, who was a native of Atlanta, and MLK Day.
(h/t @TheUndefeated) pic.twitter.com/t6Q1hTgi77
The Atlanta Hawks also debuted their 'MLK City Edition" jerseys, paying their own tribute to Dr King – who was an Atlanta native. The jerseys were released last year, featuring 'MLK' on the front. The players will also wear the jerseys next season – profits being given to support communities.
"Now more than ever since his untimely passing, the eyes and ears of the world are focused on the evolution of social justice, poised to elevate Dr. King's vision from an aspiration to a universal reality of equality and dignity for all races," the Hawks state.
The team adds that the colourway pays homage to Dr King's determination and underrated style, while also honouring him being a part of the first Black Greek fraternity. Per the team's release, his social activism provides the team roots "from which the Atlanta Hawks community work grows — crucial issues such as, Diversity, Inclusion, Voting Rights and Economic Empowerment".