After a week during which several NBA players expressed their support for national protests by wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has weighed in: He wants it to stop.
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose warmed up over the weekend in the now famous “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt before his game. The statement Rose made encouraged other NBA players to silently make their voices heard by wearing the T-shirt as well.
Silver sat courtside at the Barclays Center Monday as Cleveland Cavaliers players LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn Nets players Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Alan Anderson and Jarrett Jack wore the T-shirts.
Even though Silver respects the players, he’d prefer they not break the rules to make their statement.
“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 told Yahoo Sports in an email on Monday night.
NBA players are required to wear Adidas apparel during warmups, but a league source told ESPN‘s Jeremy Schapp that the player’s wouldn’t be fined for wearing the “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts.
Jack, the organizer of the gesture, offered the shirts to the visiting Cavaliers.
“I just wanted those other guys in the locker room to band together with us and be a part of the statement that we put out there on the court today,” Jack told USA TODAY.
Jack even got the OK from minority team owner, Jay-Z, to wear the shirts.
“[Jay-Z] told us he appreciated the stance we were taking with it, representing the cause, but also representing the Nets organization as well as the borough he grew up in,” Jack said.
The “I Can’t Breathe” message symbolizes the last words of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man, who was choked to death by a police officer over selling “loosie” cigarettes. Last week, the grand jury decided not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, which led to more nationwide protests.