Since Saturday, shirts honoring Eric Garner that read “I Can’t Breathe” have been a hot topic among NBA stars. Derrick Rose wore one on Saturday, and LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and several Brooklyn Nets players wore them on Monday.
So far, there has been mostly positive public reaction, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver supports the players’ rights for free speech…but he’d prefer they go about it a different way.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded with support of the league’s star players offering social commentary, but stopped short of embracing the “I Can’t Breathe,” T-shirts emerging as part of uniformed pregame warmups.
“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 told Yahoo Sports in an email on Monday night.
That’s more or less what you’d expect the commissioner to say. He doesn’t want to set a precedent of players wearing non-league sanctioned clothes on the court because of the league’s agreement with Adidas.
Still, Silver’s statement was a pretty mild reprimand. He didn’t say that players couldn’t wear the shirts, or that he would fine or suspend them if they didn’t stop. Just that he’d prefer they didn’t. That says more about Silver’s stance than any real punishment would. He clearly supports his players’ rights to speak out on social issues, which is what really matters.