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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, More Wear 'I Can't Breathe' Shirts Before Cavs-Nets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2014

USA Today

Cleveland Cavaliers stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving joined the list of athletes speaking out following the death of Eric Garner and the subsequent decision by a New York grand jury not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer involved in Garner's death.

According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, a shirt bearing the slogan "I can't breathe" was visible in James' locker before Monday night's game against the Brooklyn Nets:

Stefan Bondy @SBondyNYDN

LeBron James has a black "I can't breathe" shirt in his locker

Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group photographed James wearing the shirt during warmups:

Chris Haynes @ChrisBHaynes

Photo: LeBron James during warmups sporting the "I Can't Breathe" t-shirt. #ICantBreathe http://t.co/MyzNjbqy9A

The four-time Most Valuable Player elaborated on his opinion regarding the situation, per Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times:

Zach Schonbrun @zschonbrun

"As a society, we have to do better. No matter what race you are" -- LeBron James #CavsNets

Irving joined his Cavaliers teammate in the silent protest. Bleacher Report's Howard Beck snapped a photo of the All-Star point guard before the game:

Howard Beck @HowardBeck

Kyrie Irving warming up at Barclays Center in #ICantBreathe t-shirt. http://t.co/PMAuGNhTcw

According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, former Cavs guard Jarrett Jack, who now plays with the Nets, provided the shirt to Irving:

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Jason Lloyd @JasonLloydNBA

Kyrie Irving wearing the "I can't breathe" t-shirt tonight pregame. Said he got it from Jarrett Jack.

Four members of the Nets, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack & Alan Anderson, joined rapper Jay Z to pose for a picture showcasing their shirts via Michael Lee of the Washington Post:

Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee

Jay Z standing with Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack & Alan Anderson. They can't breathe http://t.co/0hsLmodSgZ

On Tuesday, the entire Los Angeles Lakers team had the shirts in their lockers according to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

Eric Pincus @EricPincus

Lakers have "I can't breathe" shirt in lockers - think whole team

The Lakers tweeted a picture showing Kobe Bryant and company in the shirts:

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Tipping off in moments. #GoLakers http://t.co/YTE9LSqWty

The slogan refers to Garner telling officers he couldn't breathe while one officer placed him in a chokehold.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver shared his reaction to the players' decision, via Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski: 

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

On 'I Can't Breathe,' shirts, Adam Silver tells Yahoo: "I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views..."

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Adam Silver continued: "...on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules."

James and Irving aren't the first athletes to signal their support for Garner's cause. Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose wore a similar shirt before Saturday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

Dec 6, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) prior to a game against the Golden State Warriors at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush also showed his support for the movement prior to Detroit's game Sunday, per USA Today's For The Win:

For The Win @ForTheWin

Reggie Bush wears 'I can't breathe' shirt during warmups - http://t.co/DmwRLulOLP http://t.co/58vQRe5oRk

In a similar vein, members of the St. Louis Rams made the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture before a Week 13 game in solidarity with Michael Brown after he was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. A grand jury chose not to indict Wilson for Brown's killing:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Rams players won’t be disciplined for their “hands up” gesture http://t.co/GecV7UkzFn http://t.co/ZdBZgVGfdN

On Sunday, James spoke about the movement and the t-shirts it's inspiring.

"It's spectacular," he said, per Haynes. "I loved it. I'm looking for one."

James also posted an Instagram photo in support of Brown after the grand jury decision:

As a member of the Miami Heat in 2012, he and Dwyane Wade helped organize their teammates to speak out following the death of Trayvon Martin.    

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