Star athletes have a pulpit. Contrary to popular belief, though, it’s their choice whether or not to stand on it. LeBron James has been basketball’s loudest public voice over the past few seasons, and his response to events surrounding the death of Michael Brown was heard loud and clear last week. Taking the lead of his fellow former MVP, Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose donned a shirt that read “I Can’t Breathe” before his team’s game against the Golden State Warriors tonight.
— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) December 7, 2014
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) December 7, 2014
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) December 7, 2014
Rose’s shirt is in support of Eric Garner, the 43 year-old Staten Island man who was killed on July 17 after being placed in a chokehold by police officer Daniel Pantaleo during an arrest. A grand jury voted against indicting Pantaleo on Wednesday. Video of the incident shows Garner yelling, “I can’t breathe!” as police continue to subdue him.
Countless cities across the country have held peaceful rallies in recent days to protest the grand jury decisions related to the deaths of Garner and Brown. “I Can’t Breathe!” and “Black Lives Matter” are the demonstrations’ nationwide rallying cries.
Rose reportedly told some teammates, family, and close friends before the game that he would wear the shirt. The 25 year-old didn’t speak to reporters after Chicago’s 112-102 loss to Golden State. Joakim Noah commended Rose for his stance and offered a few thoughts of his own post-game.
Via ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell:
“I knew that Derrick was going to put that t-shirt on,” Bulls center Joakim Noah said. “I think he has every right to express his beliefs. He told me that he was going to wear it. I respect Derrick a lot. I think he’s definitely making a statement by wearing it. That’s my guy.”
“Yeah. If that’s what he wants to do, I respect it,” Noah said. “I think a lot of people feel that way. When you wear a T-shirt with a statement everybody’s going to know how you feel about it. I respect Derrick 150 percent and I’m riding with him … a lot of people feel that way. It’s really sad what happened. Police brutality is something that … it happens. Not every cop is a bad person. Not every black person is a bad person. You can’t judge people. But he definitely made a statement by wearing that T-shirt.”
It’s Rose’s right to express his opinion. Like so many millions of others, we proudly and defiantly share the same one.
What do you think?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.