In support of the nationwide protest of a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the choking Eric Garner to death, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt before Monday’s game against the Nets in Brooklyn. Cavs teammate Kyrie Irving joined James and several Nets players in wearing similar shirts.
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose also rocked the “I can’t breathe” shirt in support of Eric Garner before Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. Rose who did not address the Warriors he media after Saturdays nights loss, spoke Monday after practice explained his decision to wear the t-shirt Saturday,
“I’m just happy that people paid attention to it,” Rose said. “I think it touched a lot of people because I grew up in an impoverished area like that, and sometimes [situations like that] happen a lot of times. It just touched a lot of people, and I just wanted to make sure that I got my point across.”
Having grown up in Englewood, a crime-ravaged neighborhood in Chicago, Rose felt a personal connection to try to get his message out.
This isn’t something new for Lebron, you may remember a few years ago King James showed his support for Trayvon Martin by posing with the entire Miami Heat roster in hoodies.
Bush and Rose were joined by numerous other players on Saturday, some of whom penned their protests on their sneakers. Sunday, St. Louis Rams guard Davin Joseph wrote the slogan on the cleats he wore during pregame warm ups before the Rams beat the Washington Redskins 24-0. Tight end Jared Cook had it written on his wrist tape. Receiver Kenny Britt had several names — including Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin — written on his blue and gold cleats. The names were of black men or teens whose deaths led to protests.
Joseph Tweeted an image of his shoes before the game with the message: “R.I.P. Eric Garner.”
The St. Louis Rams displays a similar protest for in support on Mike Brown coming out of the tunnel with hands up gesture, when a grand jury failed to indict officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing the unarmed Ferguson teen.
Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi wrote the message on the back of the shirt he wore before a game in Cleveland. The growing trend of athletes using their national platform to make political statements on the field and court has not gone unnoticed.
Bademosi said there were players and coaches on his team who weren’t even aware what “I Can’t Breathe” meant. He called the Garner case “a ridiculous situation.”
“It’s not an us-against-them thing,” Bademosi said. “It’s about us standing in solidarity with those of us who know what’s going on.”