As reporters waited to enter the Cavaliers locker room before Monday night’s game in Brooklyn vs. the Nets, Jarrett Jack walked over with an envelope for his former teammates.
In it were black t-shirts that said, “I Can’t Breathe” in white lettering — the same shirt worn by Derrick Rose in pregame warmups before Saturday’s game against Golden State.
Monday night, six players protested the non-indictment of officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garneron Staten Island. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving wore the shirts for the Cavaliers while Deron Williams, Alan Anderson, Jack and Kevin Garnett wore the shirts during pregame warmups for the Nets.
They wore the shirts on a night when Commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance as well as Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton.
While many players have distanced themselves from social issues in the past, the Nets and Cavaliers felt as if they could not avoid speaking out in this instance.
“You know what happened,” Williams said. “It’s not one of those things where people are saying this and cops are saying that. It’s there for you to see, so you just feel bad that a man lost his life because of that.”
“We are very, very socially conscious,” Jack said “We aren’t just focused on ourselves as just athletes or what goes on with just our sport on a day-to-day basis. Collectively, we understand that this is just an issue that needs to be addressed and the more attention we can bring and awareness we can bring to it, I think, is great. It’s not a color issue, it’s a people issue. It’s a citizen issue.”