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Nets choosing jerseys for social justice, from ‘Black Lives Matter’ to ‘Education Reform’

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Not every Net has spoken about what message he’ll be wearing —or not— when the team takes the court for real again on July 31. But slowly, decisions are being made and revealed.

Dzanan Musa will wear “Equality and Peace,” a reflection not just of America’s racial woes, but his homeland Bosnia’s struggles. Caris LeVert, who participated in “four or five protests” during the NBA shutdown, has chosen “Black Lives Matter,” while Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will offer “Liberte’” short for France’s national motto, “Liberté, égalité, et fraternité,” short for Liberty, equality and fraternity. Joe Harris said this week that he requested to have “Equality” as his first option and “Vote” as No. 2.

And Garrett Temple, whose family helped integrate LSU, has chosen “Education Reform.” He revealed his decision and the rationale behind it on CNN Friday...

“We in the Black community have been marginalized so much, there’s so many different things that need to change in order to allow us to get better chances. I think that education is something that’s very much needed. It’s fallen by the wayside in most cases,” said Temple, one of two union vice presidents on the team, but the only one in the “bubble.”

“The public-school system isn’t nearly where it needs to be in a country as powerful as ours. Allowing people to be educated, allowing people to learn more things, maybe even changing some curriculum to make things more applicable to real-life scenarios, I think is something that really needs to happen.

“And give people more of an opportunity, once they get out of school, to use that education to make a better living for themselves and be contributors to society in an economic way. So education has been very important to me and my family. I know how much it can help and change someone’s life.”

Luwawu-Cabarrot spoke of his rationale Friday evening on the Nets daily Zoom call with reporters.

“I think freedom means a lot to everybody especially right now,” Cabarrot said. “I think that’s something that is due to everybody and everybody deserves it, so that’s what I’m going to wear on the back of my jersey.”

Players are choosing from a set list of 29 short messages agreed to by the NBA and NBPA. Not everyone is happy with the choices. Norman Powell of the Raptors wanted his jersey to read, “Am I Next?” but that’s not on the list.

The Nets, through Jacque Vaughn in particular, are hoping to go beyond just messaging through jerseys when play resumes. Vaughn has, among other things, recommended books, podcasts, films, etc and has engaged in team discussions at “The Floridian” resort where Brooklyn is staying for the duration.

“That is really the true challenge. The basketball part will be easy, but to continue to invest in the bigger picture and the broader message to our entire group, and that comes through education,” Vaughn told reporters. “We’ll continue to push that as an organization. It is definitely on the forethought of our coaching staff, our GM, our ownership. It will not be removed because the ball is bouncing again.”

Away from the “bubble” but on the same subject, Kyrie Irving took to Instagram to explain how he’s trying to balance basketball and promoting social justice. As our Brian Fleurantin noted last week in his review of Irving’s PlayersTV special on Breonna Stewart’s killing, “It’s a subtle, but important thing to lend your voice and cede the floor to the people who are more knowledgeable and more connected...”

Here’s part of what Irving said...

“I’m out there frontlines, activism. I’m out there contnuing to spread light to Breonna Taylor and #SayHerName and all of our women. Like, this is the life that empcompasses a lot more than just just shooting a damn basketball.”

On Saturday with the passing of Congressmen John Lewis who was instrumental in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, Vaughn opened practice with this...

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Donta Hall and Lance Thomas remain in quarantine, as presumably does Justin Anderson who has yet to sign but is in Orlando. No word yet on when 1) Hall and Thomas will be ready to go or 2) who will take Michael Beasley’s place, although it seems Anderson will be the choice. He even tweeted a shoutout to Nets equipment managers Friday.

Then, Saturday morning, he seemed ecstatic over some news...

Temple spoke as well as about his veteran role in practices this week.

“We have less veterans here, and obviously with a couple new guys, trying to teach them the ropes, trying to teach them how we do things in the organization, it’s been great,” Temple said. “I’ve been a little more vocal, but I was vocal before as well. Just getting guys acclimated and telling them to use their voices as well.”

Of the Nets older players — Jamal Crawford, Temple and Thomas— Temple is the only one who’s played so far this year although Thomas did play with the Nets in preseason.