DONOVAN Mitchell brought a bulletproof vest to the NBA restart.
No, seriously, he did. In this video taken by Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, the Jazz guard explained why he was lugging around a bulletproof vest, right before the first game of the pro league's return on Thursday night (Friday morning Manila time).
“It’s pretty much every possible name of someone who’s died from police brutality,” said Mitchell.
He continued: “It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how famous you are, as an African American male, that’s who you are.”
Mitchell’s accessory perfectly sums up the unique circumstances surrounding the return of the world’s most popular professional basketball league. COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and the strange feeling of playing inside a hotel have all combined to turn the usual hoops style game up on its head.
For starters, the tunnel walk has been pretty subdued.
The suits and drips from a pre-pandemic NBA have been replaced, for the most part, with casual tees and sweats. Many also wore shorts.
LeBron James, though, did not disappoint. Take a look at that loungewear.
On the court, King James also seemingly revealed a bright new colorway of the LeBron XVII. These kicks, in searing yellow and orange, punctuated the King’s high-flying restart performance.
(The much-teased LeBron XVIII, only glimpsed in grainy paparazzi shots from inside the bubble, was nowhere to be seen, however.)
Vaunted rookie Zion Williamson stepped out on a brand new colorway of his own during the Pelicans' match against the Jazz. Thing is, you won’t be buying this in any store anytime soon. According to the Pelicans' official account, his kicks were designed by his younger brother.
Yeah, we’d cop those.
Donovan Mitchell also brought in some custom kicks, as well. (Unlike the bulletproof vest, he got to wear these on the court.) He rocked custom adidas D.O.N.s with the words “Say Their Names” emblazoned on the side panels.
And, as promised, players broadcasted more messages on the backs of their jerseys on game day. While it’s a bit social-justice-by-committee — the messages were all pre-selected by the NBA, which is why the usually vocal LeBron James decided not to put one on his jersey — the number of players wearing them all projected a strong statement of solidarity.
Here’s a list of all the messages today’s players wore on their jerseys, via USA Today:
Los Angeles Lakers
Alex Caruso – Black Lives Matter
Talen Horton-Tucker – Black Lives Matter
Dion Waiters – Black Lives Matter
Markieff Morris – Education Reform
Danny Green – How Many More
Devontae Cacok – Justice Now
J.R. Smith – Justice Now
Kostas Antetokounmpo – Peace
JaVale McGee – Respect Us
Quinn Cook – Say Their Names
New Orleans Pelicans
Sindarius Thornwell – Black Lives Matter
Lonzo Ball – Equality
Jaxson Hayes – Equality
E'Twaun Moore – Equality
Jahlil Okafor – Equality
Brandon Ingram – Freedom
Kenrich Williams – I Can't Breathe
Derrick Favors – Listen To Us
Frank Jackson – Peace
Zion Williamson – Peace
Darius Miller – Power To The People
Zylan Cheatham – Say Their Names
Josh Hart – Say Their Names
Jrue Holiday – Say Their Names
JJ Redick – Say Their Names
Nicolo Melli – Uguaglianza (Italian for Equality)
Nickiel Alexander-Walker – Vote
Los Angeles Clippers
Jamychal Green – Black Lives Matter
Marcus Morris – Education Reform
Ivica Zubac – Enough
Landry Shamet – Equality
Lou Williams – Equality
Amir Coffey – How Many More
Montrezl Harrell – How Many More
Terance Mann – I Am A Man
Patrick Patterson – I Am A Man
Joakim Noah – Justice
Reggie Jackson – Liberation
Rodney McGruder – Peace
Joe Ingles – Ally
Ed Davis – Education Reform
Georges Niang – Education Reform
Jarrell Brantley – Enough
Rudy Gobert – Equality
Royce O'Neale – Equality
Mike Conley – I Am A Man
Rayjon Tucker – Justice
Justin Wright-Foreman – Justice
Nigel Williams-Goss – Justice Now
Tony Bradley – Peace
Jordan Clarkson – Peace
Emmanuel Mudiay – Peace
Miye Oni – Power To The People
Donovan Mitchell – Say Her Name
Juwan Morgan – Say Their Names