If you've been paying attention to the basketball team the Atlanta Hawks you might have noticed a change to their jerseys. Back in January 2021, the team released the City Edition of its jerseys in collaboration with Nike, the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association, and the estate of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to honor his legacy.
King's initials are now where the name "Atlanta" used to be on the front of their jerseys, and his signature is on the bottom left side. Even the colors are different. Instead of the usual red, yellow and white, these jerseys are black, gold, and white. But this is about more than honoring MLK. Here's why the big change was made.
Why do Hawks jerseys say MLK?
The Hawks jerseys have Martin Luther King's initials on them as a tribute to the late civil rights leader. According to the Six Mile Post, the change in colors represents King’s determination and also honors the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, of which he was a part. All of these changes are especially important because he was born and raised in Atlanta.
According to the NBA, the colorway changes specifically mean the following:
"Infinity Black: This principal hue of the Atlanta Hawks Nike Statement Edition and City Edition uniforms denotes the team’s bold, relentless, and unapologetic approach to competition and community.
"Vintage Gold: The subtle and sedate golden tone highlights the reverence befitting the memory of a global icon and reflects an air of sophistication.
"Fidelity White: Dedication and loyalty to the great city of Atlanta along with the ideals of equality and compassion come through in this crisp and classic white."
In addition to that, there are stars on the side of the uniform's basketball shorts. These represent the 22 times King was arrested for fighting for equality and change. The Hawks played their first game of the season on Jan. 18, MLK Day, and will wear the jerseys throughout the season.
The Hawks' home court is also getting custom MLK treatment. The logo is being changed to look like the stained glass of a church. The civil rights leader was also a reverend, and this artwork honors that part of his identity.
The Hawks are using these jerseys to give back.
The NBA also says that the Hawks will continue to honor MLK by giving back. The team announced on Twitter that proceeds from the sale of this special edition jersey will go to "support economic empowerment programs for Atlanta's communities of color."
For those looking to buy an MLK jersey, they are on sale alongside other merchandise in the same theme. You can shop on the Atlanta Hawks website. Items range in price from $14 to $130. There are different kinds of hoodies, t-shirts, shorts, pants, a basketball, and more available but act quickly because some items are already sold out.