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“I Can’t Breathe” NBA player protest shirts

Contributed by Matthijs Sluiter on Dec 10th, 2014. Artwork published in
December 2014
    Source: USA Today Sports. License: All Rights Reserved.

    LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and several other players wore “I can’t breathe” shirts while they warmed up for Monday night’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nets, following the example set by Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls who wore such a shirt on Saturday prior to the Warriors game.

    “The shirt refers to a New York man [Eric Garner] who died July 17 after a police officer placed him in a chokehold when he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. It is not known if the players will face any penalty from the NBA. Players are required to wear apparel of Adidas, the league’s official outfitter.” — AP

    A quote on a shirt is a strong statement. But why set it in Apple Casual (Rose) or Comic Sans (Cavaliers) respectively? Maybe it was picked to convey Garner’sas a person, not as a case or cause.

    Mourning and comic letters are an odd combination that is more common than one would think (or wish).

    Source: USA Today Sports. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Source: USA Today. License: All Rights Reserved.
    Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

    Jarrett Jack, Alan Anderson, Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett of the Brooklyn Nets also wore shirts with this message, albeit rendered in a different typeface (probably Franklin Gothic).


    • Apple Casual
    • Comic Sans
    • Franklin Gothic




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    2 Comments on ““I Can’t Breathe” NBA player protest shirts”

    1. Dec 10th, 2014  6:12 pm

      Thanks for gathering these. I admire your attempt to rationalize the use of Apple Casual and Comic Sans. Nicely spun! Unfortunately, it’s much more likely the choice wasn’t so intellectualized — the shirt makers probably just grabbed the first handwriting-like fonts that came to mind. And, of course, some simple, clear writing (not type) would be the best way to convey this message. Even raw scribbling would do.

    2. Mine Creek says:
      Dec 10th, 2014  10:11 pm

      There’s something almost jarring about seeing fonts like Apple Casual and Comic Sans on a t-shirt, nowadays. That makes it to where the message on the shirt almost begs to be read. Maybe the choice of such fonts is happen-stance. Though, to me, the novelty of those choices makes for some effective communication. Bravo!

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