by PATRICK ROBERTSON Section Editor
Several players on both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets, including LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kyrie Irving and Deron Williams wore black “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during pregame warm-ups Monday, following in the footsteps of Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose who wore the same shirt in a game to show support for the family of Eric Garner.
“It’s not a Cavs thing,” James said before the game. “It’s a worldly thing.”
On several occasions in the past couple weeks, James has spoken out about the deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Like Garner, Brown and Rice were both African-American males that died because of a confrontation with a police officer.
“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.”
James told reporters on Sunday he was “looking for” a T-shirt like the one Rose wore. Nets guard Jarrett Jack heard James’ comments and supplied the shirts for players on both teams to wear.
Junior Frankie Rocca said, “I completely respect the decision made by all of these players. Watching the video of what happening to Eric Garner really affected me.”
Before the game, Jack, who played for Cleveland last season, told reporters he offered the T-shirts to members of the Cavs.
“I just heard people’s opinion on the topic, and I know [the Cavaliers] are on the road, this is the place where it happened, so if they wanted to be a part of the cause or make a statement without actually necessarily saying any words, I definitely extended the invitation,” Jack said.
The statement from the players came before a game that was attended by Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate, as well as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules,” Silver said.
Players are required to wear attire of Adidas, the league’s official apparel provider, but a league source told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap that the NBA will not fine players who wore the shirts in warmups.
Junior Miguel Cortez said, “I think Adam Silver handled this situation perfectly. If he would’ve fined those players there would have been a major uproar in the NBA.”
So what do you think? Is it right for the players to wear those shirts on the court? Should they have worn them?