On Sunday, LeBron James said he was looking for an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt similar to Derrick Rose’s.
On Monday night, he found it.
James, Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving and several Brooklyn Nets players wore the shirts during pre-game warmups ahead of the two teams’ clash in Brooklyn.
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 9, 2014
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) December 9, 2014
What made the gesture even more poignant, however, was the fact that it occurred against the immediate backdrop of protests outside of the Nets’ Barclays Center, on the night Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited the arena.
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) December 9, 2014
ESPN quoted several players on their thoughts on the shirts and what they stood for.
LeBron said it wasn’t just “a Cavs thing,” but a “worldly thing,” before adding most of his thoughts were with the family. He said,
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.
Nets backup point guard Jarrett Jack, who played for Cleveland last year, provided the shirts for members of both teams who wanted to take part in the demonstration. He said his team was showing they were “not with prejudice.” He continued,
We want to have tolerance for everybody. And I just want to allow those guys to come be a part of it as well as much as we could.
Nets star Deron Williams, meanwhile, said this was a topic he simply couldn’t hide from. Williams said,
I try to kinda distance myself from [social issues], but this is one where I kinda really paid attention and saw what was going on. I mean, you can see the [Garner] video and you know what happened. It’s not one of those things where people are saying this and the cops are saying that. It’s there for you to see. You just feel bad that a man lost his life because of that.
The NBA commissioner, for his part, said while he appreciates the leagues stars expressing their opinions, he’d prefer for players to abide by on-court attire rules.