During warmups on Monday (Dec. 8) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, and other players from both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets donned shirts that read "I Can't Breathe." The game was a media circus for other reasons—the royal couple was in attendance—but the show of solidarity with Eric Garner, the Staten Island man murdered by an NYPD officer earlier this year, was the night's headline. Orchestrating the protest, it turns out, wasn't so easy.

The New York Times spoke with members of Justice League NYC, a division of Gathering For Justice, the social justice organization behind the t-shirts. Even after the Hail Mary of reaching out to Jay Z, the small team had less than 18 hours to sketch, manufacture, and, ultimately, smuggle the shirts into Barclays and onto the backs of some of the most famous athletes in the world.

After a middle-of-the-night design session, the team made a frantic trip to a printing shop in Long Island City. Over 80 shirts were procured (in extra-large sizes; that's why Jay didn't sport one), just in time to get them to the Barclays parking lot. That's where organizers met their man on the inside, a security guard who agreed to move furtively with the garments.

Jay was the conduit for most of the necessary networking, making the initial calls to LeBron James and Deron Williams.

Though the NBA officially disapproves of non-team-issued attire on the court, neither suspensions nor fines have been levied against the Nets or Cavaliers. The first player to wear an "I Can't Breathe" shirt during warmups was Chicago's Derrick Rose, who made the statement on Saturday (Dec. 6). Last night (Dec. 9) at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers wore them as well.

[New York Times]

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