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Why Jimmy Butler started the Heat-Nuggets competition without a name on his shirt

When Jimmy Butler took the floor for Saturday’s game between the Heat and Nuggets, he didn’t have his last name or a message of social justice on his shirt.

In fact, the back of Butler’s sweater was completely blank above and below his number 22.

MORE: Jonathan Isaac explains the decision to stand up for the national anthem

After briefly standing on half-court for the opening spot, Butler was asked by referees to swap the blank jersey for one with his last name.

So why did the fivefold All-Star walk away with this particular jersey? And why couldn’t he wear it before the game against Denver?

Butler told reporters earlier this month that he wanted to keep the nameplate blank because if he weren’t an NBA player, he would be “ no different from anyone of color. ”

“I love and respect all the messages the league has chosen, but for me I felt there was no message without a name, it goes back to who I was,” said Butler. “And if I wasn’t who I was today, then I’m no different from anyone else in color and I want this to be my message in the sense that just because I’m an NBA player everyone has the same right no matter what , and that’s how I feel about my people of color, this is something we will take more action against.

“I’m, like I said, with the Black Lives Matter and all the phrases they chose to wear on the back of the sweaters. But for me it’s much more about action and continuing to learn and teach the people around me and do what I can in my community. “

Unfortunately for Butler, the NBA declined his request. Carrying a name or message is part of the uniform agreement between the league and the National Basketball Players Association.

The following personalized statements are approved to be placed on the back of sweaters, according to: Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Black Lives Matter; Say their names; To vote; I can not breathe; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the people; Justice now; Say her name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See us; Hear us; Respect us; Love us; Listen; Listen to us; Stand up; Ally; Anti-racist; I’m a man; Speak out; How much more; Group economics; Education reform; and mentor.

Butler undoubtedly knew he wouldn’t be able to play with a blank jersey, but it didn’t matter. He wanted to use his platform, and despite the NBA’s ruling, he managed to make a statement.

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