Jay Z has ordered a bunch of “I Cant’ Breathe" T-shirts after LeBron James donned the shirt, along with Deron Williams and other New Jersey Nets players at Monday night’s (Dec. 8) game at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
The New York Times tracked down the story behind the last-minute rush to get the shirts onto the players before the game started. Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose kicked things off by wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt before a Bulls game last weekend. James was inspired by the move and put the word out that he wanted to make the same statement as a show of support for the family of 43-year-old Eric Garner, the New York man choked to death by an NYPD officer.
By Monday, Russell Simmons and his political director Michael Skolnik were involved, as well as Rameen Aminzadeh of Justice League NYC, a subsidiary of the Big Apple-based social justice organization Gathering for Justice. The plan was a race against the clock to get shirts printed up and ready for James before Monday’s game, which would be attended by Jay, Beyoncé and Prince William and Duchess Kate.
Skolnik brought Hov into the fold by way of Hov's Decoded co-writer dream hampton, who reached out to the Roc Nation founder. Jay and James also spoke on the phone. Later in the evening, Jay gave Skolnik’s number to Williams, who also wanted a shirt.
In the end, Aminzadeh had 82 extra-large sized t-shirts made by a company in Long Island City. They were able to beat the clock, but had one more obstacle in the way: the NBA didn’t want players wearing the shirts. “We didn’t want the whole operation to get shut down before it happened,” Aminzadeh told the Times.
He discretely handed 38 shirts to a Barclays security guard who got them to the players. The rest of the shirts were given to protesters outside the venue.
Jay didn’t get a shirt because there wasn’t one in his size (as Skolnik put it, “He’s not going to put on a 2XL that goes down to his knees.”), but he ordered 1,000 shirts set for pick up Friday, although it's not known where they will be going.
This isn’t the first time that Jay has used fashion to make a political statement. Rocawear came under fire for selling shirts for the Occupy Wall St. movement a few years ago.
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(Photo: Nets Daily via Twitter)