LA Lakers star LeBron James was among the most visible critics of a tweet sent by the Las Vegas Raiders after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.
The tweet sent by the NFL team’s official account on Tuesday as the sports world reacted to the verdict said “I CAN BREATHE 4-20-21.” Floyd told officers “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times before he was killed when Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck last May. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday for causing Floyd’s death.
James, a 17-time NBA All-Star, was quick to criticize the tone-deafness of the sentiment, which was broadly condemned in replies on Twitter but remained pinned to the top of the team’s Twitter account overnight and was still up more than 15 hours after being posted.
“This is real???? Nah man this ain’t it at all. The F^%K!!!!” James wrote, followed by the facepalm emoji.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said he was driving when the verdict was announced and heard Floyd’s brother, Philonise, make the statement that “we can all breathe again” and decided to make that message the team’s response.
“I thought that said a lot,” Davis said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. “It said a lot about everything. I thought it was something where we could all breathe again. Justice was served. We still have a lot of work to do on social justice and police brutality. But today, justice was served.”
Davis said he won’t delete the tweet because it is already in the public sphere but is sorry if it offended anyone in Floyd’s family.
“It was taken negatively by 99% of the people,” Davis said. “That happens. That’s part of social media.”
He said he also didn’t know that the phrase “I can breathe” was used by supporters of police in New York after the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and that he wouldn’t have used that phrase if he knew the history.
“It’s a tough situation,” he said. “I feel bad it was taken in a way it wasn’t meant to be done. That can only be my fault for not explaining it.”