Why NBA players refused to fold in fight to wear social justice statements

Yahoo Sports senior NBA insider Chris Haynes breaks down how the players union stood its ground against the league, and ensure players could voice concerns about societal issues on their jerseys during the season restart in Orlando.

Video Transcript

CHRIS HAYNES: So let's give a breakdown to how we got here with the social justice statements that were approved by the league. The unions sent over a list of suggestions of options in which players will wear on the back of their jersey to try to keep this Black Lives Matter movement, keep it going forward in a positive-- in a positive direction. That was how the process started.

Now, initially, league sources told me that the league initially wanted to go with the player statements on the back of their jerseys for the first four nights of the season. That was the initial proposition. And the players said no. They want these jerseys on the duration of the season.

And then it got to the point where the league was like, OK, well, we can do that. We want your names back on the jerseys. And so that's how we kind of got to the point where is the statement at the top, and then the names on the back of the jersey.

Now, the kind of drama that ensued soon after that is from some of the players, they felt like they weren't given, I guess, adequate notice of some of these statements that were going to be approved. And, you know, you see guys like Jaylen Brown, Mike Scott, even the biggest name in the mall, LeBron James said he wasn't-- he wasn't consulted on some of the names. And, you know, there wasn't a statement out there that resonated with him.

So, you know, there's players who didn't pick a statement because they didn't feel like there was a statement that went with their cause and the direction they were trying to go. It was a situation. I don't want to say it got nasty, but it was a situation where the union was not going to fold in this instance. You know, part of the big reason why they want to restart the season, obviously there's economics involved, we understand that.

But the players want to make sure that they were still allowed to express their viewpoints, express their frustrations with what's going on in society. Police brutality, racial inequality, things along those lines. And so they weren't going to fold in this scenario. The league-- like I said, the league came back with, you know, they came back initially with the first four nights being allowed to wear the statements.

And the players were like, no, we were told that we will be given a platform. We want to-- we want to have this platform throughout the duration of this restart. And so I wouldn't say it got contentious, but, you know, at that point, the league was really in no position to say, no, we just got to-- you know, it's just going to be those first four nights.

You know, so I don't know if it ever got to the point where threats were made, that players were saying-- the players were going to say something along the lines of we're not going to play, we're not coming out there if our demands aren't met. But it was clearly a situation where the players were not going to back down on this.