Tag Archives: Eric Garner

Adam Silver: Abide By Our Rules

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.

This Generation Got Next

NFL great Jim Brown excoriated Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers in a 2013 interview where he said Bryant was “confused about African-American culture,” and explicitly stated he would not be a part of a current roundtable discussion with Black athletes:

“In the days when we had a summit and we called the top black athletes together to talk to Muhammad Ali about his status with the armed forces, there were some athletes we didn’t call. If I had to call that summit all over, there would be some athletes I wouldn’t call. Kobe would be one of them.”

Ten years earlier, Kobe Bryant accepted a Teen Choice Award for Favorite Male Sports Figure. During the speech, Bryant said “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Fox television network omitted Bryant’s speech from its broadcast.

Kobe Bryant’s statement about injustice went ignored. Instead of earning credibility with the elders, his gleaning from Dr. King was viewed as an act of disrespect.

Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, Kobe Bryant spoke at a peace walk in his honor at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, California. The move caught the media off-guard because Bryant’s people did not inform them that he’d be in attendance.

“Players such as myself and others who have the platform, our responsibility is more than putting the ball in the basket but helping them have the platform to tell their story,” said Bryant, referring to Trayvon Martin’s parents.

When former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks were exposed, Bryant was one of the first NBA superstars to call for his ousting.

After a grand jury acquitted Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed teenager Mike Brown, Kobe Bryant swiftly took to Twitter:

Bryant didn’t call for peace. He used his pulpit to shed much needed light on the current state of systematic lynching.

NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Derrick Rose, and Kyrie Irving have worn “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts over their uniforms before recent games in response to a grand jury not indicting officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death. Los Angeles Dodger owner Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson praised James taking a stand while risking business relationships with corporate sponsorships.

To Mr. Brown: Have Kobe Bryant’s actions earned him a seat at the summit? What makes his words about injustice any less valid than Muhammad Ali’s? Will the elders finally accept that the younger generation gets it?

Whether it be blacking out profile pictures on social-media, or voicing opinions that others may find controversial , today’s athletes are showing that they posses the consciousness and courage to bring about change.