Martin Luther King’s impact is felt across the country, every day. In communities where the majority of people are African-American, including the NBA, King’s influence is perhaps even greater.
To honor Dr. King on Monday, NBA players took to the court wearing special-edition warm-up shirts, and some wore unique sneakers.
The shirts were made by Nike and feature the iconic words “I have a dream” on the front of them. On the back, there is a longer quote from a speech King made on August 28, 1963. Fans can purchase the shirts at the NBA store, and all proceeds will go to the National Civil Rights Museum.
Shoes sported by the players included those from the Nike Equality line. The Equality line includes an all-black shoe with gold letters that spell “Equality.” It also includes Jordan sneakers and those that sport the colors of the Pan-African flag: red, green, and black.
Many players in the league have traditionally been outspoken about using their apparel and footwear to support their beliefs on social issues.
The league, itself, has significantly relaxed rules regarding what can and cannot be worn on the court. Decades ago, shoes had to be predominantly black or white with only some accents in team colors to showcase team unity. The rules have loosened to allow players to wear shoes of their choice, as long as there is some sort of team unity.
For special events, including MLK day, there are very few rules about what one can wear in terms of shoes. On these “theme nights,” special-edition sneakers are shown off. On Monday and over the weekend, there was astonishing variety in how players honored Dr. King. Since millions of young people look up to these players, their way of marking MLK day was sure to be noticed.