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The Memphis Grizzlies will celebrate MLK Day with a poignant, powerful alternate jersey

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The Grizzlies’ alternate for 2016-17 drips with history.

The Memphis Grizzlies have a history of sweet alternate jerseys, none better than the glorious Memphis Sounds throwbacks the team wore last season. The Grizz topped themselves this year, though.

This week the franchise unveiled an alternate uniform honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, developed in partnership with the National Civil Rights Museum to recognize the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.

The Grizzlies explain all the details on their website. There are four key nods to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the place where Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 and the centerpiece of the National Civil Rights Museum. Here’s a picture of the Lorraine.

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis. By DavGreg - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The lettering on the front the jersey mimics the Lorraine Motel’s iconic sign. The trim down the sides of the uniform and along the hem of the shorts represents the pattern of the railings. The use of sea foam green matches the rooms where Dr. King spent his final days. Finally, the circle at the top of the chest represents the wreath that hangs at the Lorraine.

The Grizzlies will first wear the uniform on MLK Day, Jan. 15, as a part of the NBA’s day-long celebration honoring Dr. King. That game will also kick off a year of events for the Civil Rights Museum, leading up to the 50-year anniversary of Dr. King’s death in April 2018.

There’s never been a more powerful alternate uniform in the NBA.