James explained why he passed when he spoke with reporters on a video conference call Saturday, Reuters reported.
“I don’t need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I’m about and what I’m here to do,” James said.
The Lakers are slated to open the restarted season on July 30 against the Los Angeles Clippers at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida.
The NBA is allowing players to sport a message on the back of their jerseys instead of their last name. James scanned the list of approved phrases but didn’t see one that appealed to him.
“It was no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players,” James said.
“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.
“I would have loved to have a say-so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process, which is OK. I’m absolutely OK with that.”
Among the phrases reportedly agreed upon by the NBA and the NBA Players association include: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; I Can’t Breathe; and Respect Us.
Saturday also marked the Lakers’ first group practice for the preparation of the upcoming restart. It came four months to the day since the NBA season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It gave me an opportunity to be home and make up a lot of time that I’ve lost over the years because I’ve been playing in this league and striving to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to ever play this game,” said James, a 16-time All-Star averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds this season. “So sacrificing my family at times was the most challenging and hardest part of it all.”
League physicians and officials are concerned about the lingering health effects for NBA players who contract the coronavirus, ESPN reported Saturday.
“There are unknown effects it has on lung capacity, unknown effects it has on cardiac health,” one general manager of a team entering the NBA bubble told ESPN on the condition of anonymity, Reuters reported.
“What if a 24-year-old catches it in Orlando and, in 14 days, he quarantines and is fine, but then he has these everlasting heart problems? (Or he) gets winded so easily, or he becomes a little bit too susceptible to fatigue? ... These are all the unknowns.”
The NBA is preparing to restart the season, with 22 teams reporting this week to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando for training camp. Games are scheduled to resume on July 30.
Any player who tests positive faces a two-week quarantine period before he can be cleared to return to the court. A physician will determine when the isolation period is over, a process that will include a cardiac screening.
Matthew Martinez, a consulting cardiologist for the NBA Players Association, stressed to ESPN that players will need time to rest after a positive test because doctors believe “the amount of cardiac damage can increase if you continue to exercise in the face of an active infection.”
The effects of COVID-19 on cardiac health, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), are “not yet fully understood,” the league wrote in a memo sent to teams on June 15, per ESPN.