Commentary

Uni Watch: Notable attire protests

Los Angeles Clippers not the first team to make a statement with uniforms

Updated: April 28, 2014, 7:21 PM ET
By Paul Lukas | ESPN.com

As you've probably heard by now, the Los Angeles Clippers protested the racist comments allegedly made by owner Donald Sterling by turning their warm-up shirts inside-out and then wearing black armbands and black socks for their playoff game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. The Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers showed solidarity with the Clippers' players by wearing black socks for their own playoff matchup later that night.

This isn't the first time athletes have used their uniforms as a canvas for a protest message, although the most famous examples have involved individual players, like Jim McMahon's "Rozelle" headband or Roddy White's "Free Mike Vick" T-shirt. Coordinated team-wide protests are rarer, and team-wide protests directed at management or ownership, as was the case with the Clippers last night, are rarer still. Here's a timeline of some interested uni-driven protests over the past four decades:

March 8, 2013: Towson University baseball players responded to the news of the school scrapping its baseball program by wearing black tape over the Towson insignia on their jerseys. They continued doing this for several games.

[+] EnlargeLuis Suarez
AP PhotoLuis Suárez was found guilty of "using insulting words," but his teammates supported him anyway.
Dec. 21, 2011: After Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was suspended and fined for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, Liverpool's players responded by warming up for a match in T-shirts supporting Suarez.

July 4, 2009: The South African rugby team reacted to the suspension of teammate Bakkies Botha by wearing "Justice 4 Bakkies" armbands and headwear tags. The team was later fined for engaging in this protest.

May 15, 2009: Lance Armstrong's Astana cycling team covered up the sponsorship logos on their jerseys during the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia as a protest against the sponsors for not meeting their financial obligations.

Nov. 18, 2006: North Texas football coach Darrell Dickey protested the news of his own imminent firing by dressing his team in no-frills black uniforms for the final game of the 2006 season.

Feb. 27, 2004: After the NBA suspended referee Michael Henderson because of a blown call, Henderson's fellow officials protested by wearing their jerseys inside-out with Henderson's number handwritten on the back.

Nov. 1, 1997: Boston University football players protested the school's decision to eliminate the program by swapping out their game jerseys in favor of generic white jerseys provided by alumni. According to this article, "Some players taped an X over the BU logo on their pants and called themselves University X. They lost the game 45-7 but won the support of the BU community."

Nov. 21, 1987: After Ohio State president Edward Harrington Jennings announced that football coach Earle Bruce would be fired at the season's conclusion, OSU players protested the coach's dismissal by wearing "Earle" headbands for the team's game against Michigan.

March 10, 1976: The Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA wore black armbands to protest recent actions by their GM and ownership group. Further info here.

Uni Watch
Oct. 15, 1973: After Oakland A's owner Charles Finley tried to remove second baseman Mike Andrews from the roster following Andrews' two errors in Game 2 of the 1973 World Series, A's players responded by taping Andrews' uniform number to their sleeves during a batting practice session prior to Game 3.

Do you know of more uni-based protests? Send your submissions here.

Paul Lukas wishes the Mets would wear black armbands to protest the Wilpons' ownership. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

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