Seventy-four minutes before the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are scheduled to square off in the highly anticipated play-in tournament, the home team's official account tweeted out a picture of point guard Kemba Walker arriving to TD Garden wearing JBL headphones. But it was not the brand-name headphones shoehorned into a hashtag that garnered the most attention. That distinction belongs to Walker's flowing, bright-yellow jacket sporting the Gadsden Flag on the back.
UPDATE: The Celtics deleted the tweet.
The flag, designed in 1775, features a rattle snake ready to strike above the words Don't Tread on Me. Its original meaning was pro-revolution and anti-British but over the course of 226 years, the symbolism has morphed. A 2016 piece in the New Yorker by Rob Walker explores the shifting messaging associated with the design. Its popularity grew during the past four years and the unmistakable yellow flag was prominent in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
All of this is to say that no one is telling you what to think about it. It's nothing remarkable to a lot of people. It's also quite a statement to another faction of people. It seems fair to say that as far as fashion statements go, this one is more statement than fashion compared to other pregame fits. Though, political messaging through wardrobe has become quite common in all sports leagues.
Given the current environment it seems impossible that Walker won't be asked about his sartorial choice after the game. It promises to be an illuminating answer because it's either a hell of a time to start a conversation or an untimely accident.