Moments when players have made a stand

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  • Los Angeles Clippers remove their warm up jackets in sign of protest over the alleged racist remarks made by their owner, Donald Sterling, before playing the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference quarterfinals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

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By Michal Dwojak, Assistant sports editor

Before Saturday’s game against the Warriors, Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breath” shirt during warm-ups. The shirt was in protest of a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the choking death of Eric Garner.

Not a man known for making bold political statements, Rose said he felt he had a responsibility to speak about the issue. Growing up in the Englewood community of Chicago, Rose said he never had an experience with police brutality, but he saw many instances of it. As a father, Rose felt that it was his responsibility to make sure that children know that they shouldn’t be afraid of the police.

Rose’s action has been praised by many throughout the nation and has led  many other NBA players to do the same. Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving and LeBron James wore the same shirt during warm-ups before Monday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.

With the global reach that NBA and other athletes have, it’s important for them to make statements and stand up for those who don’t have as loud of a voice as they do.

Rose isn’t the first athlete to make political statements. There have been athletes that have drawn attention to injustices in the world, and the hope is that future athletes will continue to do the same.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos (1968)

In probably the most famous gesture in sports history, during a time of racial tension in the United States, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved fists at the medal stand of the Mexico City Olympics. It will forever be known as the Black Power Salute.

The two were booed out of the stadium and were suspended from the Olympics for the rest of their lives but took advantage of the world stage to take a stand.

LeBron James and the Miami Heat (2012)

On March 23, 2012, LeBron tweeted out a photo of the entire Miami Heat team wearing hoodies with their heads bowed. The gesture was meant in homage to Trayvon Martin, a teen killed while wearing a hoodie. The tweet read, “#WeAreTrayvonMartin #Hoodies #Sterotyped #WeWantJustice.”

The killing had grown to be a national issue and James felt the responsibility to show his support for the slain teen. The tweet reached thousands of retweets and favorites.

Los Angeles Clippers Silent Protest (2014)

On April 28 of this year, the Los Angles Clippers staged a silent protest against then-owner Donald Sterling. Before their playoff game against the Golden State Warriors, the players gathered at center court and took off their Clippers warm-up shirts and left them there. Players then warmed up in inside-out red shirts that didn’t display the Clippers name. Many players also wore black arm and wrist bands and black socks.

The silent protest was against racial remarks that were made by Sterling. Many players on other teams supported the Clippers’ actions and even did the same in their respective games.

St. Louis Rams “Hands Up” In Support (2014)

Before the Rams’ Nov. 30 game against the Oakland Raiders, Rams players Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Brit came onto the field for pregame introductions doing the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose. The pose was in response to Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson not being indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Many, including the St. Louis Police Officers Association, criticized the pose. The players, however, took advantage of the moment to make their statements and the NFL said it would not discipline the players for their actions.

Michal is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and @bennythebull94.