*Jay Z didn’t join LeBron James and Deron Williams in wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt earlier this week, but the rap mogul made a fashion statement of his own by ordering 1,000 of those same shirts.
The New York Times reports the effort was done in a race against time to have the shirts printed up and ready for James before his Cleveland Cavaliers team took on the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. After seeing Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt before a Bulls game last weekend, James was inspired by the action and made it known that he wanted to show his support for the family of Eric Garner by doing the same thing.
The “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt movement Rose started is the latest in a string of protests against the non-indictment of an NYPD officer who choked 43-year-old Garner to death.
Among those involved in James’ effort were Russell Simmons, his political director Michael Skolnik and Rameen Aminzadeh of Justice League NYC, a subsidiary of the social justice organization Gathering for Justice.
Jay Z’s involvement came after Skolnik reached out to the co-writer of his book “Decoded,” dream hampton, who in turn got touch with the entertainer. Jay Z spoke with James on the phone and later gave Skolnik’s number to Williams, who also requested a shirt to wear at the game.
Aminzadeh had 82 extra-large sized t-shirts made by a company in Long Island City, the Times noted , adding that everyone involved had to find a way to get past the NBA not wanting players to wear the shirts.
“We didn’t want the whole operation to get shut down before it happened,” Aminzadeh told the Times, which noted mentioned that he discretely handed 38 shirts to a Barclays security guard who got them to the players.
As for the rest of the shirts, they ended up being given to protesters outside the Barclays Center.
Although the Nets, sported their shirts, Jay Z did not receive one in light of their not being one in his size. According to Skolnik, “He’s not going to put on a 2XL that goes down to his knees.” In addition to Jay Z, who was with his wife Beyonce, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, attended the game.
Skolnik did say the rapper ordered 1,000 shirts that are set to be picked up Friday, despite it not being known where they will be going.