Leading Off

Leading Off: NBA commissioner walking a tightrope

It can’t be easy being Adam Silver these days. Late in his first full year as NBA commissioner, Silver is finding himself in a tough position as many of the league’s stars have shown support and protest of African Americans recently killed by white law enforcement officers – most notably Eric Garner, the Staten Island, N.Y., man who died after being placed in a chokehold, and Mike Brown of Ferguson, Mo., who in August was shot to death by a police officer.

Bulls star Derrick Rose was the first to wear a warmup shirt before a game on Saturday that read “I Can’t Breathe,” the rallying cry for those protesting Garner’s death. On Monday, more players wore similar warmup shirts, including Cleveland’s LeBron James – the league’s biggest star.

As uncivil protesters in Ferguson started fires and looted stores late last month after the police officer who killed Brown was not indicted, Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore, a St. Louis native, wore the words “R.I.P. Mike Brown,” on his shoes during a game.

The recent pregame protests by some of the NBA’s biggest stars places Silver in a tight spot – allowing high-profile players to voice their opinion while protecting the league’s sponsors.

So far Silver has not made an attempt to mute the players’ voices, but if the number of players wearing pregame shirts continues to grow or the protest begins to expand, the commissioner may have a tough decision to make.

▪ One easy decision the league made was telling the Golden State Warriors they could no longer sing their postgame victory song “CoCo,” a head-bopping tribute to the love and business of cocaine by rapper O.T. Genasis. A recent video taken of the players gleefully singing the song in unison on the team’s airplane probably led to the plug being pulled on the Warriors. An Instagram photo of the Warriors flying back to the Bay Area from Minnesota showed the team celebrating its 13th consecutive victory with CoCoa Krispies.

– Victor Contreras

vcontreras@sacbee.com


What to watch

College basketball, Kansas at Georgetown, 4 p.m., FS1: The No. 10 Jayhawks will be without star junior forward Jamari Traylor, who was arrested last weekend for interfering with a police officer.

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