TIME Basketball

Mavericks Close to Getting Rajon Rondo From Celtics

Boston Celtics Vs. Orlando Magic At TD Garden
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (#9) hits a short jumper over Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (#5) in the second quarter on Dec. 17, 2014. Barry Chin—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Rondo could change everything for the Mavericks

The NBA trade market isn’t typically fruitful in December, but the Celtics and Mavericks are reportedly finalizing a deal to send Rajon Rondo to Dallas. In return, Boston will receive Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a future first-round pick, and a future second-round pick. Incidentally, Celtics rookie Dwight Powell will also make his way to Dallas in the deal.

Thus concludes Rondo’s years-long run on the trade block. Now that the Celtics have finally agreed to send the 28-year-old pending free agent to Dallas after eight-plus seasons in Boston, Rondo will be plunged into a basketball setting dramatically different from anything he’s experienced before. Let’s parse this new reality.

• The Mavericks’ play for Rondo accepts implicit risk. Dallas came to the negotiating table with the best offense in the NBA by a fair margin, efficiency centered on a core of sharp decision-makers willing to give up the ball and move without it. Rondo fits the first criterion easily. In terms of spatial intelligence he may have no equal in today’s NBA. No one sees the court so clearly in its infinite possibilities, much less have the skill to act upon them.

Where he could prove a more awkward fit is in the way his playing rhythm might clash with that of the Mavericks. Rondo’s rise to stardom was predicated on his having control. This was (and is) the cleanest way to make use of his spectacular vision, and in some systems that tendency to probe and hold the ball might work out brilliantly. Dallas’ offense, which draws its power from seamlessly moving from one option to the next, may not be one of them. Flow can be a delicate thing. At the very least Rondo’s arrival would push the Mavericks to adapt. That much is doable, given coach Rick Carlisle’s savvy, but how much can Dallas conceivably improve an already elite offense? It stands to reason that Carlisle could produce an even more efficient attack with an upgrade over Jameer Nelson at point guard, and Rondo is certainly that. In vying for that prospect, however, the Mavericks have accepted the possibility that their outgoing assets and time spent working in Rondo might yield only comparable results.

Player integration isn’t simply a calculus of net talent. Rondo is far better than any of the Mavericks’ point guards and a superior overall player to Wright, whom Dallas reluctantly surrendered. But in considering what makes Dallas such an outstanding offense, this deal inspires a very reasonable doubt. Take the pick-and-roll, an entry-level component of the Mavericks’ attack. Dallas’ pick-and-roll game is vicious for how it overlays the skills of Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis. Nowitzki is one of the game’s most commanding spacers and Chandler, according to Synergy Sports, is a 72.5 percent finisher in such scenarios. Yet the impetus is Ellis, who is not only fast and skilled but also committed to creating shots. He attacks the basket in a way that forces opponents to respect the threat of his scoring, which in turn challenges their defensive choreography.

Rondo, by contrast, drives under a pretense. He has no intention or desire to shoot. He looks past layup opportunities and plays for the assist with a stubborn consistency. It’s a credit to Rondo’s playmaking ability that he turns up so many scoring opportunities for his teammates while projecting as a non-threat himself. That preference, though, upends the way Dallas operates out of the pick-and-roll (particularly Ellis, its chief practitioner), creating a gamble out of what is now a sure thing.

To make matters more complicated, this deal can’t be regarded as solely a tradeoff between a four-time All-Star and the Mavericks’ previous point guard crop. The real cost in the exchange is Wright, who has provided needed minutes off the bench as Chandler Light. Given how spectacular Wright has been (he’s made an outrageous 74.8 percent of his shots) and how spotty Chandler’s health can be, surrendering frontcourt depth to roll the dice on Rondo is a bold move.

Acquiring Rondo all but requires his complete buy-in. A fully invested and focused Rondo is a two-way weapon. Anything less and the payoff becomes fuzzier. While Rondo’s talent and ability are not in doubt, there are lingering questions about why the best passer in the league has guided substandard offenses in each of the past five seasons. His defense has waned over that same time frame, too, declining from All-NBA-caliber to fickle in effort. It’s been years since Rondo was a great defender and tricky to predict the nights when he decides to be even a good one. Rondo is difficult. He can be headstrong in the way he thinks the game should be played and apparently sour when he isn’t fully committed to a particular enterprise.

Dallas is banking on the notion that Rondo will welcome the move and consider committing to the franchise long term. It’s not a crazy thought. The Mavericks offer a promising landing spot for Rondo to pursue a second title. There will be obstacles to overcome and stylistic compromises to be made on all sides, but a happy medium between an all-world passer and a freewheeling offense could turn out to be the vision of unscoutable fluidity. Rondo also shown that he can generate turnovers and lock in on opposing ball handlers when willing and properly supported, which is more than can be said of Dallas’ alternatives. The Mavericks’ perimeter defense springs so many leaks that Chandler couldn’t possibly address them all. Even if Rondo never fulfills his defensive potential, he brings more length and better instincts to a team that ranks 20th in points allowed per possession.

Rondo should also help address Dallas’ weakness in completing defensive possessions. Only the Knicks allow more offensive rebounds than the Mavericks, which in effect forces a shaky defense to withstand multiple, consecutive scoring opportunities. It’s rare that a point guard could make a genuine difference in this area, but Rondo has collected boards this season as if he were a power forward. His defensive rebounding percentage essentially matches that of LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Jefferson, good for 8.5 rebounds per 36 minutes. So many of the positives of this deal from a Maverick perspective could manifest in just that kind of marginal advantage.

Dallas’ judgment undoubtedly shaped by landscape of Western Conference.The general formula for title contention calls for top-10 performance on both sides of the ball. Dallas will have a hard time meeting that requirement defensively. Even with slow, steady improvement, the path from No. 20 to championship viability is a hike. In evaluating this trade, then, the Mavericks’ brass also cast judgment on the team’s profile. A championship run as previously constituted would have defied decades of precedent, with Dallas propelled to the top by historic offensive performance amid so-so work in coverage. This transaction, complex though it might be in terms of Rondo’s particular fit, at least offers a chance to change the math.

It’s impossible to predict today just where the acquisition of such an unusual player might leave Dallas, particularly in an anything-can-happen conference. The West’s density of contenders is cited often for the challenge it presents, and rightly so (to even reach the Finals may require beating three excellent opponents). As a result, however, the West’s postseason bracket will also put the top-seeded teams in jeopardy early. The entire playoff picture could scramble quickly, leading to an unexpected matchup that could favor theMavericks. Sometimes that’s all that matters in deciding a seven-game series, and Dallas is good enough to take advantage of some zany postseason happenings.

The same was true for the Mavericks before completing this deal, but one can imagine that the prospect of running through a combination of the Warriors,Grizzlies, Spurs, Thunder and Rockets with Nelson leading the point guard rotation would prove terrifying. Even with Devin Harris stabilizing the backcourt from the bench, Dallas was clearly disconcerted to the point that it chased down a deal for a complicated free-agent-to-be at the cost of valuable pieces and all-important continuity. It may yet pay off, but for now the Mavericks know only one thing for sure: Rondo could change everything.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME society

Dear Police Unions: Please Stop Asking Jocks To Apologize

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns
Andrew Hawkins #16 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field while wearing a protest shirt during introductions prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on Dec. 14, 2014 in Cleveland. Joe Robbins—Getty Images

Sean Gregory is a TIME senior writer who has covered sports extensively over the last decade.

NFL players have taken stands against the deaths of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, and been criticized by police unions. But why shouldn't athletes take a stand?

On Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a t-shirt that said “Justice For Tamir Rice And John Crawford III.” Rice, a 12-year-old, was shot by a Cleveland police officer in a park last month; the boy had been carrying a toy gun. Crawford was shot by police in in Beavercreek, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, while holding an air rifle in a Walmart this summer; a grand jury did not indict any officers.

“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland police union, wrote in a statement to a local TV station. “They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

Neither the Browns nor Hawkins said “I’m sorry.”

On November 30, five St. Louis Rams players made the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose during game introductions, in support of Michael Brown and Ferguson protestors. The St. Louis police union was similarly peeved. It released a statement saying the officers were “profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.” The union called for player discipline and “a very public apology” from the NFL and the Rams. Although the police organization and the Rams debated whether private correspondence between a team official and the union qualified as an apology, the team publicly stood by its players.

Public opinion has moved against police officers. Some misguided people are painting them with a broad brush, saying all cops are bad. As the son of a retired New York City police sergeant, I strongly disagree with this sentiment. That’s why I’m asking police unions to please stop belittling professional athletes.

These apology demands come off as defensive. They don’t help public perception; they don’t help the tense relationship between law enforcement and many communities. These athletes aren’t painting all cops as racists. They are exercising a right to free speech. The right to believe that a 12-year-old boy should not have been shot. To believe that an unarmed Michael Brown did not deserve to die. Sure, officer Darren Wilson said Brown never raised his hands to surrender. A few witnesses said he did. The St. Louis Rams have a right to believe the witnesses.

And why single out athletes for reprimand? Unions don’t seem to be firing out angry letters to peaceful protestors. To be fair, not every union is singling out athletes. Before a December 8 game in Brooklyn, NBA stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, and other players wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in warmups, to protest the death of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after an officer put him in a chokehold. He uttered “I can’t breathe” before he died; a grand jury acquitted the officer. The New York police union did not publicly blast the players.

And official police department representatives generally have been much more measured. Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin D. Williams said on Tuesday: “The Division of Police respects the rights of individuals to peacefully demonstrate their personal views and opinions. Mr. Hawkins was certainly well within his rights to express his views and no apology is necessary.”

Yes, athletes have a larger platform than the average dissenter to spread a message. But if you don’t agree with the message, that doesn’t mean you go after them. Jocks have a first amendment right not to stick to sports. Why should law enforcement chastise law-abiding athletes?

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME NBA

Reggie Miller: ‘No Question’ Michael Jordan Tougher to Guard Than Kobe

"Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day"

Kobe Bryant has surpassed Michael Jordan on the NBA’s career scoring list, but retired NBA guard Reggie Miller believes strongly that Jordan is the better player.

Miller was asked by Dan Patrick Tuesday whether Jordan or Bryant was tougher to guard. Miller said there is “no question” the answer is Jordan.

“Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day,” Miller continued, “and that is not short-changing Kobe Bryant.”

Bryant surpassed Jordan’s career point total of 32,292 during Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves to move into third place on the NBA’s scoring list.

Bryant’s total currently sits at 32,331, but he has played 1,270 games, compared to Jordan’s 1,072. Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game over 15 seasons, while Bryant has averaged 25.5 points per game during his 18-year career.

Miller, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, faced Bryant 15 times in the regular season and Jordan 49 times. During those games, Jordan averaged 29.5 points and Bryant averaged 22.2 points.

This article originally appeared on Si.com

TIME Sports

What NBA Referees Can Teach Us About Overcoming Prejudices

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers
NBA referee Mark Lindsay #29 officiates the NBA game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on Dec. 8, 2014 in Los Angeles. Victor Decolongon—Getty Images

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University.

Evidence indicates that awareness of implicit biases can help eliminate them

Nicholas Kristof recently wrote an article as part of a series for The New York Times about race relations in the United States. Part of this article referenced a paper by Joseph Price and Justin Wolfers (published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2010). This paper provided evidence that NBA referees suffered from implicit bias, which is defined as a “positive or negative mental attitude towards a person, thing, or group that a person holds at an unconscious level.”

Price and Wolfers’ study offered evidence that referees exhibited a negative bias against those of a different race. Specifically, their research indicated that white referees tended to call more fouls on black players, and black referees tended to call more fouls on white players. As the authors noted, this was not because of explicit racism. Rather, it was due to an implicit bias, which Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink (a book that inspired the study) indicated most people tend to have.

In response to Kristof’s column, Mike Bass, an executive vice-president of communications for the NBA, posted the following in the comments to he New York Times article:

While Nicholas Kristof calls his readers’ attention to a very significant societal issue, the study by Justin Wolfers and Joseph Price cited to support his assertion that “white N.B.A. referees disproportionally call fouls on black players, while black refs call more fouls on white players” relies on flawed methodology. It is therefore not a valid assessment of N.B.A. officiating.

The researchers considered calls made by three-man referee crews as a single entity, with majority rules determining whether a crew counted as “white” or “black.” A subsequent study commissioned by the N.B.A. and conducted by the Segal Company, a leading actuarial and consulting firm, analyzed calls made by individual referees, making these findings much more significant. Segal ultimately found that the race of officials and players does not affect foul calls in the N.B.A.

So it appears we have two studies. The study by Price and Wolfers says we can see evidence of implicit bias in the data. But the NBA has a different study that fails to find any bias. Who should we believe?

The answer to this question begins back in 2007. In May of 2007, The New York Times published a front-page story that detailed what Price and Wolfers had uncovered. As part of this story, Lawrence Katz, Ian Ayers, and I were asked to review both the study by Price and Wolfers and the NBA’s response. As is noted in the article, the three of us — who all have extensive experience publishing and reviewing academic studies — were not impressed by the NBA’s effort.

But the story didn’t end there. Price and Wolfers were given access to the data the NBA used to supposedly refute their results. In an article published in Contemporary Economic Policy, these authors provide evidence that the NBA’s data actually confirmed the original Price and Wolfers result. In sum, what the consultants provided the NBA didn’t stand up to academic scrutiny (and therefore, we should not believe Mike Bass!).

And the research didn’t stop there. Price, Wolfers, and fellow behavioral scientist Devin Pope recently investigated whether referees have subsequently changed their behavior. And the results of this research is actually good news for the NBA. The original research looked at data from 1990-91 to 2001-02. This latest study considered two additional time periods. First the authors examined data from 2002-03 to 2005-06. As with the original study, evidence of implicit bias was again found in the more recent data.

The authors, though, didn’t stop there. As noted, the publicity for this research occurred in 2007. So at that point, referees were likely made aware of this issue. Did that make any difference? Looking at data from 2006-07 to 2009-10, it appeared it did. Specifically, in the latter time period, the authors “find that racial bias completely disappeared.”

But was it the media coverage? The authors looked at other explanations (changes in the referees, the NBA addressing the issue) but did not find evidence supporting these stories. Specifically, the following was noted in the article: “While it is difficult to completely rule out the possibility that the NBA somehow influenced the referees in our study, the evidence presented in this study suggests that the most likely mechanism through which the change in bias occurred is that the media reporting increased the awareness among referees about their own implicit racial bias and that this awareness led to a reduction in such bias.”

So at this point, the NBA could be celebrating some good news. Yes, there was an issue with implicit bias in the past. And yes, this is understandable since implicit bias is fairly common. But after the issue was publicized, it appears the bias vanished. And that is good news for everyone since it suggests that implicit bias – which, as noted, is an unconscious bias – can be overcome if a person is aware that they have this bias.

The NBA, though, is not celebrating this news. Bass continues to echo the original NBA response and maintains that the original research from Price and Wolfers is not “valid.”

Such a response is disappointing. Again, it would be ideal if the NBA embraced this research. And it certainly would be better if the NBA wouldn’t try and trumpet work of paid consultants that has been refuted by peer reviewed published research.

Despite the NBA’s response, the rest of us should be happy to see this academic research. The idea that NBA referees – who work in an integrated workplace and are also heavily scrutinized – could exhibit implicit bias suggest this problem is indeed widespread. But what we have also seen is that this can be overcome. So in the end, that is good news for everyone–even if the NBA won’t admit it.

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He is the lead author of The Wages of Wins and Stumbling on Wins and continues to serve on the editorial board of bothJournal of Sports Economics and the International Journal of Sport Finance.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Kobe Bryant Surpasses Michael Jordan in Scoring

Bryant is now the league's third highest career scorer

Kobe Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan’s record for points on Sunday night, putting him at third place on the NBA’s top scorers list, behind first place Karl Malone and second place Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Bryant scored his 32,293rd point in a game between his Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves — crossing over the record mark when shooting a free throw. Bryant said the achievement was a “huge honor,” and Michael Jordan congratulated Bryant, saying, “I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.”

Watch today’s Know Right Now to find out more.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: NBA Stars Protest The Eric Garner Decision

Watch today's #KnowRightNow to catch up on this week's top stories

The LA Lakers donned “I Can’t Breathe” shirts before Tuesday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings, showing their support for protesters in the wake of the Eric Garner grand jury decision. Every player wore the shirt, except for backup center Robert Sacre. Kobe Bryant stated, “It’s important that we have our opinions. It’s important that we stand up for what we believe in and we all don’t have to agree with it, and it’s completely fine. That’s what makes this a beautiful country.”

Other NBA athletes have joined in the silent protests as well. Earlier this week, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose donned an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt, and members of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets also followed suit. LeBron James commented, “As a society we know we have to do better, but it’s not going to be done in one day.”

The NBA’s official apparel provider is Adidas, but the league says it won’t fine players for wearing unauthorized “I Can’t Breathe” shirts. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver added, “As long as they’re informed, and to be careful and make sure they understand the issues before they speak out but that I encourage them when they have genuine authentic views on a subject to let them be known.”

TIME NBA

Magic Johnson: ‘I Hope Lakers Lose Every Game’

"You either have to be great or you have to be bad"

NBA Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson seems to be in favor of his former team tanking, saying he hopes they can continue their losing ways this season.

Johnson was in New York City on Tuesday speaking at a promotional event. He later received the Sportsman Legacy Award from Sports Illustrated.

“I hope the Lakers lose every game,” Johnson said, according to Newsday. “Because if you’re going to lose, lose. I’m serious.”

Johnson believes that the Lakers are in a good space, because they will have significant cap room to sign or trade for a top player next summer.

“If you’re going to lose, you have to lose, because you can’t be in the middle of the pack,” he said. “You either have to be great or you have to be bad, to get a good [draft] pick.”

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant says he doesn’t believe that teams around the league are tanking.

“Maybe there are certain teams in the league — and this is not one of them — where ownership sits up there in their office and they’re crossing their fingers quietly and hoping,” Bryant said. “But the players themselves? Never.”

The Lakers’ losing stopped at least for one night, after they beat the Sacramento Kings 98-95 on Tuesday. Their 6-16 record is the second-worst in the Western Conference.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NBA

NBA Won’t Fine Players for Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Dec. 8, 2014, in New York.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Dec. 8, 2014, in New York. Jason Szenes—EPA

League rules require that players wear attire of Adidas, who provides the NBA's apparel, during pre-game activities

The NBA will not fine players for wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts in honor of a Staten Island man who died after police placed him a chokehold in July, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap.

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt on Saturday during warm-ups before Chicago’s game against the Golden State Warriors to honor Eric Garner. Thousands across the country have protested after a grand jury decided last Wednesday not to indict the officer who put the chokehold on Garner.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, guard Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett and guards Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson all wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts before Monday’s night contest at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Outside of the Barclays Center before the game, about 200 protesters chanted “I Can’t Breathe!” and “No justice! No peace! No racist police!”

“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

League rules require that players wear attire of Adidas, who provides the NBA’s apparel, during pre-game activities.

“You hear the slogan ‘NBA cares’ and it’s more evident than now to show some support,” Garnett said. “Obviously we’re not on the front line of this movement, but I think it’s important being from these communities and supporting these communities.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

LeBron James Wears ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirt During Warm-Ups

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Dec. 8, 2014, in New York.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Dec. 8, 2014, in New York. Kathy Willens—AP

As did several other NBA players on Monday

A group of NBA players on Monday night became the latest to wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in solidarity with protesters rallying nationwide in the wake of last week’s Eric Garner grand jury announcement.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers sported the shirts during warm-ups, as did Jarrett Jack and Kevin Garnett of the Brooklyn Nets, CBS Sports reports. Demonstrators gathered to chant the phrase outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — where royal couple Prince William and Kate were attending the same game — marking the city’s sixth night of protest after a grand jury announced the officer involved in Garner’s death would not be indicted.

“I can’t breathe” were Garner’s final words in July after an NYPD officer placed him in a chokehold during an altercation on Staten Island. The phrase has since become a rallying cry for protesters upset about police brutality, especially involving white officers and unarmed black men, and particularly after the Ferguson, Mo., protests following the August police shooting of Michael Brown. A grand jury recently decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the teen’s shooting, igniting a night of violence in the St. Louis suburb.

“This is more of a motion to the family more than anything,” James said, the New York Daily News reports. “As a society, we have to do better. We have to be better for one another, no matter what race you are. But it’s more of a shoutout to the family more than anything. They’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort.”

After Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose wore a similar shirt earlier this week, James said he “loved it” and was looking for one of his own.

[CBS Sports]

TIME NBA

Bulls’ Derrick Rose Wears ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirt During Warmups

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose wears a shirt reading "I Can't Breath" while warming up for a game against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 6, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago.
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose wears a shirt reading "I Can't Breath" while warming up for a game against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 6, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago. Chris Sweda—Chicago Tribune/Landov

In support of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold in July

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose sported an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt in pregame warmups before Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. The shirt was in support of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after being placed in a chokehold by police in July.

Protests across the country have collected steam after a grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Garner. Pantaleo placed Garner in the chokehold while arresting him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. “I can’t breathe” were reportedly among Garner’s last words before his death, which was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner’s office.

Last week, a group of St. Louis Rams players made the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture used by protestors in Ferguson, Mo., and across the country in the wake of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced last week that a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Brown.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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