Last week we vented our frustrations with the disappointing Eric Garner grand jury decision. It made headlines everywhere, and athletes with huge platforms took their fame and visibility to publicly oppose the decision in the last few days.
The first player to wear the ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirt was Derrick Rose, star point guard for the Chicago Bulls this past Saturday. It was met with both praise and objection as illustrated by the great Tom Ziller (basketball fans, go follow him if you don’t already).
“But the implications are…that he actually needs to spell out why he opposes the killing of a citizen by the police in broad daylight for the crime of selling loosies. It implies that anyone — anyone! — needs to explain why he feels black lives matter, let alone a 26-year-old black man from one of the worst neighborhoods in the country.”
There are people who feel that athletes shouldn’t project their personal beliefs on contested issues, but to ask them to share more of their lives through social media and not allow them to share their thoughts on what they feel is important is unfair.
Last night, the entire Lakers team took the court for warmups with ‘I Can’t Breathe’ emblazoned on the front of their shirts. Some were critical of the stance taken by the team, and Kobe specifically to which Kobe responded perfectly in his post-game press conference.
“I think it would be a serious disservice to limit this to a race issue. It’s a justice issue,” he said. “You’re kind of seeing a tipping point right now, in terms of social issues.”
LeBron James , Kyrie Irving and a few players on the Brooklyn Nets wore the shirts last night as well. King James, who hasn’t been shy to speak out in the past, offered up this gem after the game last night.
“It’s just for us to make a [statement] to understand what we’re going through as a society,” James said when asked about the T-shirt. “I’ve been quoted over and over about what’s going on as far as it’s more of a notion to the family, more than anything. Obviously, as a society we have to do better. We have to be better for one another. It doesn’t matter what race you are. It’s more of a shout out to the family more than anything, because they’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort.”
Click here for the full story. It is really great to see such prominent athletes have a real understanding of the social climate and what is going on in this country. We really have to give a huge shoutout to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the entire league for being proactive with all types of social issues from the Donald Sterling ban, to community service and outreach, and for making sure their star players are informed citizens. And lastly, thank you to all NBA players who have been so willing to unite together to stand up for what they believe in.