Derrick Rose's "I can't breathe" statement makes a difference, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving back his play

Derrick Rose's "I can't breathe" statement makes a difference, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving back his play

Derrick Rose wore an "I can't breathe" shirt in warm ups on Saturday prior to the Warriors game in support of Eric Garner. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving backed his play Monday night by wearing similar shirts.

I tend to live under a rock when it comes to anything non sports related in nature, and Derrick's wearing of the shirt was actually the first I heard of the incident. If you similarly live under a rock, you can see the video here.

Now the Garner situation happened awhile ago, but what recently transpired was that the cop who committed the crime wasn't indicted on charges causing a new wave of protests. As noted, I tend to live under a rock for all things non sports, but that sure seems like some serious BS that a cop can kill a man who doesn't appear to be threatening him in any way with no consequences and that's not even mentioning the racial component.

Police brutality is a serious issue, and I'm not the right guy to give the topic proper coverage, but I'm happy for Derrick Rose to raise attention to the issue, and his wearing of the "I can't breathe" shirt besides moving me personally, helped move LeBron and Kyrie to do the same a couple of days later.

While Rose is a star in his own right, LeBron is a megastar and will garner even more attention. Hopefully, change can be created from this movement though change will be difficult. In this, Rose and LeBron have both done something that Michael Jordan was afraid to do.

Take a stand on an important social issue, especially a racial one [though I wouldn't think there'd be much racial divide on this one].

Derrick on his stance:

"I'm just happy that people paid attention to it," Rose said. "I think it touched a lot of people because I grew up in an impoverished area like that, and sometimes [situations like that] happen a lot of times. It just touched a lot of people, and I just wanted to make sure that I got my point across."

"I grew up in it," Rose said. "I saw it every day. Not killing or anything, but I saw the violence every day and just seeing what can happen. If anything, I'm just trying to change the thoughts of the kids' minds across the nation, but it starts here."

"I wouldn't say I'm going to do it every time, it's just something that I just felt," Rose said of making such a public statement. "Usually I stay out of politics and police brutality. I'm not saying all cops are bad or anything, I'm just saying what happened them days is uncalled for, and I think that hurt a lot of people. It hurt the nation.

"But my biggest concern is the kids. I know what they're thinking right now. I was one of them kids. When you live in an area like that and you don't got any hope, and police are treating you any way. I'm not saying all police [officers] are treating kids bad, but when you live in an area like that, it gives you another reason to be bad. My biggest concern are the kids and making sure that my son grows up in a safe environment."

Adam Silver had this to say:

"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,'' Silver said.

Can't help but think that was the wrong message from Silver. Yes, he can't have players turn pregame warm ups into "personal message" time by allowing people to wear anything, but I think it's the wrong time to make that speech. I don't think this had any chance of snowballing into a players wear whatever they want event.

At any rate, good for Derrick for raising awareness. Good for LeBron for following Derrick Rose and raising more awareness [and being willing to be a follower which for a superstar of his caliber isn't so cut and dry as one might think].

Social change requires a mandate from the masses, maybe Derrick's statement can be part of causing that mandate.

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  • I'm okay with pointing out police brutality, but I am uncomfortable with this particular case being turned into a divisive racial issue. The surviving family says its racially motivated, and the sergeant in charge on the scene was black.

  • In reply to dreverts:

    That's the media for you.

  • In reply to dreverts:

    There is a mountain of evidence that the police is especially brutal towards blacks. The video footage of this makes it something that stands out as a lightning rod. A black guy being on the scene doesn't mean blacks aren't the target of racial profile and unnecessary force.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Well said Doug. Both the blog post and this comment!

    It's not a white vs black issue. It's a Police vs blacks issue. Statistics show that blacks have more encounters with the police and the amount that turn deadly is staggering when compared to whites.

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    It really isn't a police vs blacks issue, it is simply a police issue. You are simply wrong about the stats. In 2012, the last year official FBI stats are available, cops killed 123 blacks, and 326 whites, explain to me how that is staggering evidence that things turn deadly for blacks.

    As someone who got beat up by the cops when I was a passenger in a head on collision back in college when I was a cadet at West Point I know first hand how the cops react when you don't do what they want when they want and how they want, even when you are polite to them(I never said a single word to them directly). While injured myself I was checking on my friend and on the poeple in the car that collided with us. I was leaning into the front seat of my friends car talking to him when I was jumped from behind, clubbed by two cops, handcuffed and taken back to the police station. My friend was taken to the hospital and later brought to the police station. By this time the captain on duty had figured out what had happened was quite contrite and arranged for an officer to give us both a ride back to West Point. I was a clean cut kid, I was also disciplined enough not to say anything to the cops or to fight back when they attacked me having survived an entire year of hazing as a freshmen(Plebe, short for plebeian). I certainly didn't get any white priviledge from those 2 bums. I spoke to an attorney about my options, and was told that it would be extremely difficult to prevail against the cops.

    A lot of cops are just a slightly better class of thugs that we give badges and guns to. Part of it is human nature, you give a little person a little power and it goes to their heads.

    I am all for protesting against police brutality, I am sick and tired of everything always being made to be about race. Shit happens to everyone every day, thats life. However, when something happens to a black person, especially if a white is involved it is always racism.

    Maybe, I've lead a sheltered life, but in my 55 years I have basically never seen overt racism in person, other than having heard the N word(by both blacks and whites) a few times when I worked in the construction industry during my summers off of school in Chicago.

    Other than traffic stops I have never had any contact with the police as I would assume is the case for nearly all law abiding Americans who don't live in crime infested inner city neighborhoods. The police can't abuse or kill you if you never come into contact with them, which is a fairly simple proposition. Very few of these incidents in the news(almost none) involve innocent angels just walking down the street minding their own business.

    I believe that the cop in the Garner case deserves severe punishment, he probably should lose his job(depending on the rest of his record, which appears to be spotty).

    However, If you read the information made available from the grand jury testimony it is obvious that Garner was not just a random guy selling a couple of loose cigarettes. He is low level career criminal who was already out on bail when this incident occurred and had been arrested at least 31 times and received at least 2 jail sentences. The police did not randomly come upon him and decide to harass him. They were called to the scene by several local merchants(some if not all of whom are black) who complained that Garner's activities were disturbing the neighborhood.

    None of that justifies him dying, but it pretty much kills any argument of police racism and targeting blacks for killing. This was a legitimate police action that turned into abuse by at least one individual officer, not a case study of systemic racism.

    I am probably wasting my breath, since most people already(always) have their minds made up about these kinds of issues, regardless of the specific facts of any particular incident.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    "I tend to live under a rock when it comes to anything non sports related in nature"

    yet you seem to be aware of a mountain of evidence(none of which you sight) that the police are generally especially brutal toward blacks.

    Seems to me that you have to be wrong about one of those two contentions.

    As reported recently by any number of news agencies, in 2012 the last year for which there are FBI stats available, cops killed 123 blacks and 326 whites. In a nation of over 300 million that amounts to about 1.7 killings per one million people. More than 99.99% of all police engagements with the public end without violence. The actual statistics are so infinitesimally small that there simply is no case that can be made for a systemic problem, racist or otherwise.

    In fact the reason that these cases become such a big public event, is because they are indeed so exceptionally rare.

    Again, what happened to Garner is flat out wrong, just as what happened to Rodney King was horrifically wrong, but these cases are the exceptions not the rule.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree. There is a tendency for people to be fooled by randomness. There are 800,000 state and local cops in this country. That translates into literally millions of cop/citizen interactions each and every day. Most of those interactions are friendly or benign, but I am sure there are quite a few in absolute terms that have some degree of conflict involved. In the end I am surprised there aren't MORE deadly altercations.

    If there was widespread systemic bias against black people characterized by a propensity to use deadly force I would think we would see many more incidents of the type that have been in the news over the last few weeks. I am sure there are a few bad apples (including some who are racist) who make it through the psychological screening process meant to weed out people who would be bad cops, but there don't appear to be too many. No process is going to be perfect in screening candidates to fill 800,000 positions. This guy may have been one of the bad ones that slipped through and I do believe he should have been indicted, but his presence and actions likely do not constitute anything more than randomness at work. And even if turns out he is evil incarnate it doesn't say anything about any other police officers.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    The ratio of whites to blacks in America is roughly 6:1. The ratio of cops killing whites to blacks you just cited is less than 3:1... I would say that is staggering

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    The ratio of whites to blacks is 5-1 not 6-1, with blacks about 13% of the total population, and whites about 63%. Blacks also commit a disproportionate number of the serious crimes in the U.S, over half of all murders for example, or roughly 4 times more than everyone else combined on a per capita basis(that is indeed staggering). Of the remaining less than 50% I'd imagine that a significant portion are committed by Hispanics(who are usually counted as white in crime stats) and a fairly small number by Asians and other ethnicities.

    As a result Blacks clearly have a lot more interactions with the police on a per capita basis, particularly those that involve guns and violence. When you factor in the real facts that no one wants to acknowledge or talk about it likely completely wipes out the not so staggering ratio that you rely on.

    Again the total number of killings of all people is so infinitesimally small relative to the population as whole and the level of crime and violence prevalent in our society that the only staggering thing is that there aren't a lot more killings by the police.

    Virtually all of these stats are predominantly a product of socioeconomic issues, not race. It would be interesting to see the number of blacks killed by police who are in top tiers(1,5,10,20 percent) of the income distribution. I venture to guess that number is close to zero, which is why Rose and his kids have nothing to worry about.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    the sargeant at the scene was a woman and african american, also the precinct captain is african american, additionally as a whole the entire NY city police department is minority majority, i.e. less than 50% of the cops are white.

    Unfortunately for the rest of us the misbehaving cop was white, we don't know if he was just a bad cop, or a racist cop, and you can't tell that from just the video. But the behavior of one guy shouldn't besmerch the entire organization, which while far from perfect, is likely one of the more progressive police forces of a major American city.

  • In reply to dreverts:

    I meant to write "The surviving family says its NOT racially motivated"

  • As a fan I'm fine with Derrick wearing that shirt. Raising awareness of problems in society can be a good thing.

    I also believe in honesty from our sports heroes. I would also admire Rose if he wore a shirt before the Nets game that said "I can't shoot."

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Sorry, I didn't mean to copy you. I hadn't seen your comment before I posted mine.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Thats Hilarious, maybe he can't shoot because he can't breath.

  • Another reason I love Derrick Rose. A classy and clear message was sent by wearing that t-shirt with a peaceful sentiment that needed no further comment. He is a serious young man in how he approaches the game and how he approaches his place as a role model to millions of young kids.

  • In reply to piggy7:

    Couldn't agree more. Classy young kid from day 1

  • And tomorrow night he will wear a shirt that says "I can't shoot".

  • yea, I respect D Rose on so many levels, and have always loved his humbleness and unselfishness. I think his personal character has always been a good model for younger athletes, even if there are a few flaws like most athletes have. I also agree with Doug about Lebron, seems like a positive to see from that type of superstar, and have always thought (may be totally wrong since I don't really know him) from the outside looking in that Lebron is a genuinely nice person, even if we don't care for his basketball related personality.

  • Most of the time you think ah, let's stick to sports and entertainment which is why we are here as fans on Doug's blog Bulls Confidential. Sometimes though, sports broaches upon social issues or crises where it seems reasonable to respond. This is particularity true in the NBA where a large proportion of the players are black/African-American.

    If we are going to enjoy black athletes efforts and talents on our behalf, certainly In such times it seems appropriate to respond to outcries from the players who make our lives better. Many of those players who come from ultra-violent "war zones."

    Players like Derrick Rose(sporting a protest t-shirt), the St Louis Rams player protest etc. Yeah, truthfully, there are a lot of people who "can't breathe" too well because they are impoverished, and ridden with crime and drugs. This perpetual mayhem spawns over policing to solve a systemic problem which is obviously not being addressed satisfactorily i.e improved.

    It's no secret, yet seemingly also no concern, that a hugely disproportionate number of American citizens aka crime ravaged people are African-Americans. In these hostile territories otherwise known as the streets of America, a war like violence and tension exists. And like in any other war you have brutality whether it's soldiers or the police. It's just the nature of the beast.

    If you look at the number of Americans incarcerated particularly African/Black Americans it is beyond shameful. All you have to do is check out world wide incarceration rates and you see America is the Prison nation. And It's frightening really how little is being done or is thought about it by most people living in "safe" zones. It's almost as if a movie like The Hunger Games actually exists today right under are noses. Except rather then white actors, it's largely African American males being murdered or imprisoned.

    I've checked this before and again recently and if you look at U.S. incarceration figures, stat geeks feel free to parse them, around 1970-75 the prison population relative to the total U.S population went through the roof. Not coincidentally unemployment which before this time usually never hovered over 4% suddenly had spurts of 8-10%. My hometown of Rockford IL suffered some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. A huge industrial manufacture of furniture etc., many of those jobs dissolved as advanced automation and computers set in along with cheap labor being shipped over seas. Jobs simply dried up in blue collar and lower class neighborhoods. Literally within 7-8 years low crime, "nice neighborhoods" as in right next door to where I was living sunk into crime and gang violence.

    Of course anybody engaged in prolonged carnage becomes desensitized to violence and dehumanizes the "enemy," including job retaining middle class citizens and police officers involved in such a massive and dysfunctional endeavor.

    People can blame the lower class populations themselves i.e guys like Derrick Rose who if not for luck of diamond rare talent would be right in there being surrounded by those out of work and hooked into crime, but abandoning schools and neighborhoods under the guise of Catholic/religious, and other private schools seems hypocritical as hell if you ask me. I wonder how many of Derrick Rose's immediate neighbors turned from decent human beings into either criminals or murder victims. It's beyond sad. And it sees no sign of change IMO with a period of sheer profit focus and lack of fairness i.e proliferation of huge greedy corporate interests. We are living in the anti 70's/80's which in Congress broke up huge, threatening mega monopolies or cartels. IMO people are stupid if they don't think eventually there will be big trouble ahead for all of us. Oh, but not the top 5% who own about 60% OF THE NATION'S WEALTH. Apocalypse now is where were at really. "The horror, the horror."

    "OK Tom thanks for that report, now back to sports."

  • It's good and bad when athletes make political statements. Reggie Bush was supporting the same cause with the same T-Shirt, but didn't know the facts - ADMITEDLY.

    It's like me campaigning for a Presidential candidate, but then not being able explain why other should vote for him/her. Just stupid.

  • Common , now it's about Dericks shirt??? How about the growing question of his ability to play heathy at his previous MVP level? Or, how about just playing at any level healthy? He just needed a push in the media to boost his diminishing popularity. Here is the shirt he can wear next. " Pull up your pants, and don't loot" That's right I said it!!

  • Personally, I don't really care that much one way or the other about the shirt. However, I'm not sure that athletes or anyone else has a right to do this while on the job. He'd be better off addressing the issue outside of work, specifically not at game time.

    I am certain that those of us who are required to wear a suit to work or a uniform would not be allowed to wear a T-shirt, protest or otherwise over our suit or uniform. Athletes are employees too, ultimately it is up to their employers, but they shouldn't get special treatment in this area too, they already get too much of that.

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