The Atlanta Hawks will wear special uniforms in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. next season, and profits from jersey sales will be used to support communities of color.
On Sunday, the Hawks debuted black and gold "MLK City Edition" uniforms, which feature the civil rights leader's initials on the front of the jersey. King was born in Atlanta in 1929 and served as a Christian minister and social activist before his death by assassination in 1968.
The team said the back and gold colors speak to "Dr. King's determination, as well as his understated style," but are also a nod to his membership in the first Black Greek fraternity.
"Now more than ever since his untimely passing, the eyes and ears of the world are focused on the evolution of social justice, poised to elevate Dr. King's vision from an aspiration to a universal reality of equality and dignity for all races," the Hawks explained on their website.
"The tenets of Dr. King's social activism are the roots from which the Atlanta Hawks community work grows — crucial issues such as, Diversity, Inclusion, Voting Rights, and Economic Empowerment," the team said. "We are building bridges through basketball to better the world around us. We vow to work, to fight, to take action… to earn these letters every day!"
The uniforms were made in collaboration with the King Estate Foundation, NBA, NBPA, and Nike, they added.
The Hawks are continuing the NBA's work to highlight social justice issues this year after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Since restarting the season in July, the NBA has supported the Black Lives Matter movement by placing the phrase on its courts and allowing players to wear it on their jerseys (along with other calls to action).
"During this challenging climate, it is our hope that this visual reminder of Dr. King's legacy will inspire people to further educate themselves on how he [affected] change using his philosophy and methods of nonviolence during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s," Eric D. Tidwell, Esq., manager of the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said in a statement.
"We look forward to continuing to work with the Hawks to perpetuate his wonderful legacy,” he added.
The Hawks will wear the uniforms throughout the 2020-2021 season and will debut a special "MLK City Edition"-branded court for home games.
The court will feature the same black and gold colorway of the uniforms and incorporate the team's traditional red and yellow colors in a "mosaic pattern" at center court, they said.
As ESPN notes, NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn't expect next season to start any earlier than January 2021. The Hawks could, in turn, debut the uniforms on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 18.
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