If you watched Monday night’s game, chances are you noticed the Dallas Mavericks sporting a brand-new warm-up shirt during pre-game activities and while on the bench.
The custom NBA shirts were designed by Nike with the words ‘BUILT BY BLACK HISTORY.” Upon closer inspection, there’s a bit more history to go along with the look. The ‘BUILT BY” letters were inspired by African quilt patterns that you can see detailed below.
Meanwhile, the words “BLACK HISTORY” feature significant years in NBA history when the league’s Black trailblazers broke barriers and stood up for the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion (those moments and players are listed at the bottom of the page). With the shirts though, there is a ton of detail weaved throughout the bottom letters to create a shirt with significant history.
Throughout February and beyond, the Mavericks will join the entire NBA to celebrate Black history and support the ongoing pursuit of racial justice by taking leaguewide action that centers on the voices, experiences and perspectives of Black players, coaches, employees and fans.
Last year was a pivotal year for sports and society, as the NBA and NBPA agreed that advancing social justice was a shared goal of the 2019-20 season restart.
Players, coaches and teams took daily action to confront systemic racism and mobilize record participation in the civic process. The NBA family also came together to form the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition and the first-ever NBA Foundation to address issues of racial injustice and invest in economic empowerment in the Black community.
Back here in Dallas, the Mavs created a special coalition called Mavs Take ACTION! and pledged to listen, learn and unite North Texas communities to address racial inequities and disparities, promote social justice, and drive sustainable change. The Mavs also committed to a minimum $5M investment and 10,000 employee volunteer hours over the next three years in Mavs Take ACTION!
Mavs center Dwight Powell is aware of the prominent role he and his teammates should assume in the community where they live, work and play.
“It’s always been bigger than basketball, especially for us in Dallas,” Powell said. “I think we’ve always been very aware of the support that our community provides us, and we wouldn’t be able to play this game without our fans, without our families and our communities.
“So to see them struggling, to see black and brown people losing their lives to police brutality and the system standing as it is, it’s crucial that we understand that there are things more important than basketball, even if you are a professional basketball player and you’ve dedicated your life to this sport.”
Monday night was the first day of February and also the first day of Black History Month. And the moment certainly wasn’t lost on Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.
Before taking questions during his pregame news conference before Monday’s 109-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns at American Airlines Center, Carlisle said: “In honor of Black History Month, which is February, there’s a reading for every day of the month. So on those particular days I’m going to do the reading somewhat similar to what we did in Orlando.”
In an article written by Mavs.com writer Dwain Price, he noted how during the bubble in Orlando last summer, Carlisle read a passage before every Mavs’ game and after every practice about something poignant that happened to African-Americans throughout history. This all came in the wake of the May 25 murder of George Floyd, which touched off a global firestorm.
The president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, Carlisle helped spearhead a movement among the coaches and players to protest police brutality towards African-Americans and improve equality in racial justice situations.
In Monday’s reading, Carlisle said: “Reading No. 1, in 1926 Carter Goodwin Woodson established Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month. The month of February was chosen in honor of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, who were both born in that month.
“So that’s why Black History Month is February.”
Among other things, Woodson earned a PhD in history from Harvard University, where he became the second African-American to receive a doctorate. He also was the dean of the College of Arts and Science at Howard University.
Meanwhile, Douglas was an abolitionist, suffragist and author of several books, including his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave, which was a best-seller.
In addition, Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and helped engineer the end to slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Mavericks will honor Black History in other ways off the court, too. Players are individually recording special video messages to show on social media platforms and the “Built By Black History” words stitched across their chest will pay homage and respect to the following moments during the last 71 years of the NBA:
1950: Chuck Cooper, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, Harold Hunter and Earl Lloyd became the first Black players in the NBA.
1958: Bill Russell was the first Black player to be voted NBA MVP.
1965: Oscar Robertson became the first Black president of the NBPA.
1966: Bill Russell was hired by the Celtics as the NBA’s first Black head coach. The next season he became the first Black coach to win an NBA championship (1968), winning again in 1969.
1972: The Milwaukee Bucks hired Wayne Embry as the NBA’s first Black general manager and team president.
2004: Robert Johnson became the first Black majority owner in U.S. professional sports, purchasing the Charlotte Bobcats expansion team.
2020: A pivotal year for sports and society, the NBA and NBPA agreed that advancing social justice was a shared goal of the 2019-20 season restart. Players, coaches and teams took daily action to confront systemic racism and mobilize record participation in the civic process. The NBA family also came together to form the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition and the first-ever NBA Foundation to address issues of racial injustice and invest in economic empowerment in the Black community.
You can learn more about the league’s celebrations of Black History Month by visiting NBA.com/BHM.
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