The jersey will mark the first time a person’s initials will be featured prominently on the chest of an NBA uniform.
The Atlanta Hawks will pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with their City Edition jerseys for the 2020-21 season.
The uniform, which was revealed on Sunday, features the letters “MLK” on the front in place of the team’s name. The act marks the first time a person’s initials will be featured prominently on the chest of an NBA uniform.
The black, gold and white jersey was crafted by the Hawks over the past three years alongside the King Estate Foundation to “honor the life and work of a global icon and our city’s most favored son.” The team has vowed to donate profits from jersey sales to support economic empowerment programs for Atlanta’s communities of color.
“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 Hawks wrote alongside the jersey reveal. “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!”
In addition to MLK’s initials, the alternate jersey will feature King Jr.’s signature beneath a Nike patch. The Hawks will wear the City Edition uniforms at select games during the season and will have a customized court design to match.
The uniform’s silhouette was inspired by churches where King Jr. preached, while the 22 stars down the side of the shorts honors the student Freedom Fighters and represents the times King Jr. was jailed while fighting for justice and equality.
King Jr., the “world’s greatest Drum Major for Justice,” was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga. The Hawks plan to wear the City Edition uniforms on MLK Day in January if the season has begun by that time.