LeBron James, like many pro athletes, was in disbelief over a tweet shared by the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday — after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.
As the sports world reacted to the verdict, the Raiders did so by sharing an image that read, “I CAN BREATHE,” with the date of the trial verdict underneath.
Last May, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, told officers “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times while Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said during the trial.
James — who previously reacted to the verdict by tweeting, “ACCOUNTABILITY” — had this to say about the Raiders’ controversial tweet:
“This is real???? Nah man this ain’t it at all. The F^%K!!!!”
Following an avalanche of backlash, Raiders owner Mark Davis took responsibility for the tweet and said he would not delete it because it was already made public.
“I felt that was a powerful statement,” Davis told the Associated Press in a phone interview.
Davis explained that he was driving at the time the verdict was announced and heard Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd make a statement that “we can all breathe again,” and therefore decided to use a similar message as the team’s response.
“It said a lot about everything,” Davis said. “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 apologized if the Raiders’ tweet offended Floyd’s family.
“It’s a tough situation. 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,” he said.
After the Chauvin verdict — in which a jury found him guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — the NFL was among the different sports leagues and teams to release statements.
The NFL, in part, vowed to “continue to help move our society toward a more equal and just tomorrow,” and “remain committed to do the important work needed to make positive change in our society.”
The league has not publicly addressed the Raiders’ Twitter post.