Will any Trail Blazers take advantage of NBA's new social justice policy?

Dylan Mickanen
NBC Sports Northwest

The NBA plans to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando, Florida at the end of July but not without some concerns from the players.

Besides the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the season to begin with reaching new heights, especially in Florida, some players are concerned that the resumption of the NBA season will serve as a distraction away from the Black Lives Matter movement against systemic racism of black people and police brutality. 

Then Saturday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the NBA and NBAPA "are planning to allow players to replace the last name on their jerseys with statement[s] on social justice" with initial details of the plan being sent to players that evening.

As of now, the only Trail Blazer that has opted out of the bubble is starting small forward Trevor Ariza who will sit out the remainder of the season to instead commit to a one-month visitation window with his young son.

[RELATED]: Trevor Ariza will not join the Trail Blazers when NBA restarts-- here's why

That leaves the question of if any Trail Blazers plan to take advantage of this new policy? 

Damian Lillard was seen protesting in Portland with Black Lives Matter on June 4th. Later that week, Lillard joined Sportscenter and discussed committing to the bubble during the nationwide protests.

"As far as the racial injustice, I think that's where a lot of the struggle is for a lot of athletes," Lillard said. "I think our league is made up of so many African American players. And a lot of our hearts are with our people; our minds are with our people. And we feel like we should be a part of that fight. And that's where the struggle is; I think that's where you're hearing a lot of guys kinda coming out, saying maybe we should be focused on that instead of worrying about going back in and jumping into the season."

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

But Lillard also sees the benefits of returning to the court which is why he's willing to take the risk of going to Orlando. 

"I can only speak for myself -- but I think it goes for other guys as well -- we are the financial support for our families and for a lot of our community. We bring a lot of that financial responsibility to support black businesses in black communities. So it makes a lot of sense for us [to return], from that standpoint."

Lillard wasn't the only one to join protests. Nassir Little, Rodney Hood, Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons all also protested in the Portland area.

[RELATED]: Nassir Little, Rodney Hood, Gary Trent, Jr. attend Black Lives Matter protest in Portland

Hoodie and Little along with hundreds of other protestors were chanting "Say her name" referencing to Breonna Taylor who was wrongfully shot multiple times and killed in a police raid of her home two months ago.

Perhaps one of them would put her name on their jersey, which appears to be the plan of Las Vega Aces small forward Angel McCoughtry when the WNBA starts next month, per her Instagram.

"I am currently working with the @lvaces and @wnba to use our voices, our uniforms, and our sport to continue to impact and create real change," wrote the first overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft. "I am creating a petition (LINK IN BIO) to allow players the ability to put the FIRST & LAST NAME of HUMAN BEINGS that who have been injured or KILLED in incidents involving POLICE BRUTALITY! Even Front line workers during the pandemic

"The goal is also to create a relationship with the families of who's name the athlete has chosen. This is a way to use our platform to be a helping hand during these trying times.
Silence is an ally for EVIL and when sports resume WE WILL NOT BE SILENT."

We'll have to wait and see if any Blazers will follow her lead, but the league will let them do so if any of them so desire. 

Will any Trail Blazers take advantage of NBA's new social justice policy? originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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