NBA Commissioner Adam Silver won many fans over with his response to the former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s audio scandal. From the Players Association down to the common fan, Silver was being heralded as a modern day Civil Rights hero.
But his reputation may have taken a hit with his first official response to NBA players wearing #ICantBreathe T-Shirts before NBA games.
“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,” said Silver. “Players are required to wear attire from Adidas, the league’s official apparel provider. But the players will not be fined.”
Eric Garner died in July after repeatedly gasping for air when an officer placed him in a choke-hold. There have been numerous protests around the country in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict the NYPD cop.
NBA stars from LeBron James to Kobe Bryant have been outspoken about the murders of unarmed Black men, and the justice system which is yet to hold anyone accountable for their deaths.
The question now is how will the players who this past summer congratulated Silver on his swift response to the Sterling fiasco respond to this soft, yet clear stance against their method of protest? For all that he’s done right thus far, it only takes a moment to be on the wrong side of history.
Players have worn extras such as shooting sleeves and compression shirts which were banned until the NBA licensed them out to apparel companies. Silver may be experiencing corporate pressure from the companies who have paid to have their logos in lights on game-night.
We may soon see “Official” Adidas #ICantBreathe shirts if it means enough to the players to continue sending a message.