By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO — Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt in pregame warmups prior to Saturday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.
The shirt refers to Eric Garner, the New York man who died in July after a police officer placed him in a chokehold while he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
A grand jury decided Wednesday that it would not indict the officer in Garner’s death. A videotape recording of the arrest shows Garner gasping and saying, “I can’t breathe” during the fatal encounter. Thousands have protested the grand jury decision around the country since the announcement of the decision.
This is the first major political statement Rose has made in his professional career. Before the season began, he donated $1 million to After School Matters, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that helps teenagers.
Rose’s gesture comes a day after NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson said this generation’s athletic superstars should be more socially active.
“They have to get involved socially,” Johnson said Friday. “They have to because it affects them, too. And it affects their families. They grew up in these situations; they must not forget that. They [were] once poor, they went to inner-city schools that didn’t have technology or computers, they didn’t have good books. See, I went through that whole situation. They went through that as well. A lot of their cousins are still going through that, so they must not forget that. I hope that they would do more.”
Rose isn’t the first member of the Bulls to make headlines for making a statement with a T-shirt. Former teammate Luol Deng wore one with an outline of Africa on it as he was introduced before the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando, Florida.
Up to this point, the most politically involved Rose had been was introducing President Barack Obama before a 2012 fundraiser in Chicago.
Information from ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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