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Last night, while playing in front of Prince William, Kate Middleton, and America's Royal Couple, LeBron James and a number of other players on the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as the Brooklyn Nets, were seen wearing shirts bearing the phrase "I Can't Breathe", the now-famous last words of police brutality victim Eric Garner.
Following last week's non-indictment of the officer responsible for killing Garner, protests have erupted across the country, as the public has taken to the streets to express their anger and dissatisfaction with police in America and the judicial system complicit with their behavior. By wearing the "I Can't Breathe" shirts, James and his fellow professional athletes are standing in solidarity with Garner and the police protestors.
However, according to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, league commissioner Adam Silver would prefer that they left it off the court:
On 'I Can't Breathe,' shirts, Adam Silver tells Yahoo: "I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views..."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 9, 2014
Adam Silver continued: "...on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 9, 2014
Given Silver's past decision to oust former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, it's surprising to see the commissioner dismiss an issue that so clearly effects the lives of numerous NBA players. Though the players will not be fined for their decision to break from the NBA's dress code, Silver can do better than to simply allow James, Rose, and others to wear the t-shirts; governing a league defined by its presence of black players, Silver should be addressing the issue of police brutality head-on.
However, given the league's financial interests, such political action appears unlikely. Until a group of NBA owners decide to take a stance on the Garner decision, don't expect Silver to do the same.
[via Yahoo! Sports]