While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still a massive problem globally, the United States find itself in a state of public outrage after the unjust killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
His death has sparked protests and riots across the nation, with clamors of change and reform flooding the news and social media. The NBA has been one of the most progressive sports leagues, allowing its players the freedom to speak out on issues and urge their followings to take action.
LeBron James, for example, has been one of the league’s strongest and most profound voices, using his platform to bring awareness to social injustices throughout his career.
Several prominent figures have already spoken out about Floyd’s tragic death and Vanessa Bryant added her voice when she posted a picture of Kobe Bryant wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt on her Instagram:
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My husband wore this shirt years ago and yet here we are again.💔#ICANTBREATHE (repost/photo credit unknown) plz tag 📷 Life is so fragile. Life is so unpredictable. Life is too short. Let’s share and embrace the beautiful qualities and similarities we all share as people. Drive out hate. Teach respect and love for all at home and school. Spread LOVE. Fight for change- register to VOTE. Do not use innocent lives lost as an excuse to loot. BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER ❤️
The photo of Kobe Bryant was from 2014 where he arranged for the team to wear the shirt during warm ups in support of Eric Garner, another African-American male who died during arrest. Bryant, who had a massive following of his own during his playing days, wanted to support the Black Lives Matter movement and did so admirably with his gesture.
The rest of Vanessa’s message in her post called for everyone reading to love and respect each other and ended it with support of the black community. Her words are another reminder of how things in our country have not changed much and now more than ever people need to come together and support one another.
Professional athletes are held to much higher standards than most people due to their larger public profile, and so far numerous athletes across different sports have lent their support to the black community and their peers during these unsettling times. The NBA though, has already begun to take action with people like Stephen Jackson speaking on national TV about the incident and Jaylen Brown leading peaceful protests.
The divide and unrest that Floyd’s death has triggered is truly unfortunate to see, but this is what happens when injustice goes unanswered. Right now the nation needs everyone to really look inward and acknowledge that issues like police brutality and racial inequality exist.
The current situation goes to show that there are things bigger than basketball, but the sport itself can serve as a jump off point for these things to be discussed and hopefully spark meaningful action and change.