The Atlanta Hawks recently announced an unexpected and unprecedented partnership with the estate of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the NBA, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and Nike with the release of its 2020 –21 MLK Nike City Edition uniform.
For the very first time in the league’s history, an individual's initials will be featured prominently on the chest of an official NBA game uniform. The Hawks will be donating profits from the jersey sales back into the Atlanta community to help further initiatives championed by Dr. King.
“We are honored that the King Estate would entrust us with these powerful initials.” Deeply connected to the tenets of Dr. King’s social activism are the roots from which the Atlanta Hawks’ own civic work grows. The team has a well-demonstrated commitment to building bridges through basketball to help better the community. The Hawks’ ongoing efforts in addressing food insecurity, access to early voting, and entrepreneurial development are directly tied to crucial issues on which Dr. King focused, including racial equality, voting rights, and economic justice. In a franchise first, profits from the sale of the groundbreaking jersey will be given to programs that help to continue Dr. King’s work regarding economic empowerment for communities of color.
The Black, Gold and White colorway speaks to Dr. King’s determination, as well as his understated style. It is also a nod to Dr. King’s membership in the first Black Greek fraternity. Bold Vintage Gold MLK letters, outlined in Fidelity White, blaze across the uniform chest, the initials of an eternal role model whose words of equality and justice are the foundation of today’s powerful activism. The stars donning both sides of the shorts represent 22 of the 29 times Dr. King was jailed fighting for justice and equality, while also paying tribute to the dedicated student freedom fighters who engaged in sit-ins all over the South. Of them, he said, "Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars." Towards the bottom of the jersey, Dr. King’s personal signature graces the authenticity tag.
Several of the design details of the uniform are inspired by architectural elements of churches where Dr. King delivered some of his most moving sermons. The uniform is bordered in White and Gold striping that lead to a tapered peak at the side of the shorts mirroring the silhouette of stained-glass windows. The crown and shield symbol on the leg of the shorts is inspired by church windows and Dr. King’s personal effects. At the waistband is the Hawks’ Primary Icon logo encircled in black symbolizing the continuous quest of the Black community to achieve freedom and justice. This heat-applied graphic is made of a soft touch rubber. The Nike Swoosh placed at the right jersey strap, just opposite of the Sharecare jersey partner patch above the heart.
The team will wear the MLK Nike City Edition uniforms at select games throughout the 2020-21 season. In conjunction with the MLK kit, a complimentary MLK City Edition-branded court for home games will extend the important recognition of Dr. King to the main floor of State Farm Arena.
To learn more about the Atlanta Hawks MLK Nike City Edition uniform and watch the launch video go to hawks.com/MLK.