Kobe Bryant and members of the Los Angeles Lakers added their names to the growing list of pro athletes who’ve worn “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warm-ups in support of Eric Garner.
But in his post-game comments, Bryant said that the issue isn’t just about race. “I think it would be a serious disservice to limit this to a race issue,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a justice issue.”
He continued: “You’re kind of seeing a tipping point right now, in terms of social issues. It’s become at the forefront right now as opposed to being a local issue,” he continued. “It’s really something that has carried over and spilled into the mainstream, so when you turn on the TV and you watch the news or you follow things on social media, you don’t just see African-Americans out there protesting.”
Bryant also put his demonstration in context with the actions taken by several other professional athletes in recent days. “I think it’s us supporting that movement and supporting each other,” said Bryant after the game. “The beauty of our country lies in its democracy. I think if we ever lose the courage to be able to speak up for the things that we believe in, I think we really lose the value that our country stands for.”