Home Other Stuff We Like Why Andrew Hawkins and Derrick Rose are Winning the Month in Sports

Why Andrew Hawkins and Derrick Rose are Winning the Month in Sports



It has been three weeks since the Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown.

In that short time, many similar incidents have occurred (both killings of unarmed Black males and the failure to indict their killers), and the nation, generally, has erupted.

I write about sports here, so I paid particular attention as the protests crossed over into the athletic realm. These stories have started meaningful discussions about policing and race in America. Let’s look at the varied reactions among professional athletes.

You’re doing it wrong –

Benjamin Watson


This is no fun to type. Watson went to my high school so I’ve always rooted for him. He’s had a successful career as a pro, and I hope he has 15 more years in the league.

But he’s wrong here.

If you missed it, Watson posted a now-viral post on Facebook (full text here) in the wake of the Ferguson decision. He explains his range of emotions over the decision, the demonstrations afterward, and the state of race relations in America.

It was very balanced, but Watson ignores some issues that make the whole post fall flat for me.

First, Watson’s “sympathy” and “confusion” represent a defeatist attitude that excuses Wilson’s actions. We only have one side of Wilson’s story because he killed the only other person who could refute it.

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Second, that defeatist attitude gives cops a free pass. The police are here to protect us. Not boss us around, and definitely not shoot us if we “disobey” them.

Maybe Brown punched Wilson and tried to take his gun (which is ridiculous…what Black man do you know that would reach into a cop’s car for anything?)…WE DON’T KNOW. And we don’t know because Wilson shot at Brown 12 TIMES.

It’s not ok to present Brown and Wilson as equals. Wilson needs to be held to a higher standard as a police officer. The fact that he never has to defend himself in court is. not. ok.

Finally, Watson’s solution for all of this is God. I would argue centuries of racism, Jim Crow and segregation (all defended with religion, by the way) caused this, and it will take policy (police, economic, and government), education and time to undo it.

Religion is on the list. But it’s not the list.

You’re doing…fine –

LeBron James (and other, less famous athletes)


LeBron was among many athletes who wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts recently. He’s the most famous one, so let’s just use him as a representative.

When asked about wearing the shirt, LeBron n ‘nem said they were honoring the families affected by the deaths of their loved ones.

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Essentially, they side stepped the political ramifications of their shirts, choosing instead to use them as a memorial.

This is an unassailable position. Who can be upset by athletes using their notoriety to honor others? It would’ve been great for them to take a political stand, but as I said last week, they don’t owe us that.

I’m not upset about this because no one could be. It’s just…fine. Great to see athletes acknowledging society’s issues. Not great that they didn’t really have a stated opinion.

You’re doing it right (dope song btw, click that link) –

Derrick Rose and Andrew Hawkins


I’m highlighting both of these guys because they not only wore shirts in support of the victims of police violence, they stood tall afterwards when explaining why.

For both men, the shirts were a symbol that they believed justice was not served for Eric Garner, Tamir Rice or John Crawford. They each made a gesture that was decidedly on one side of the fence. Choosing not to play it safe by riding the middle.

I appreciate that. Not just because I agree, but because it’s what I wish more athletes would do (although, again, I understand why and that they don’t have to).

That Rose and Hawkins cited fatherhood as the compelling factor in wearing their shirts is interesting. Though I can’t speak on yet, I imagine having a child will significantly change my worldview. Probably from “me and wife” to “family I need to provide for.”

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A thought that is somehow exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Those are my power rankings. How did you see it? Were you happy with Watson’s Facebook post? What about LeBron, Rose, and Hawkins? Could they all be doing more? If you’re a parent, does that change your opinion?

Hit the comments and let me know!


  1. Has LeBron spoke on Tamir? As a father and someone who has spent the whole summer rebranding himself as Mr Cleveland I thought he would (or maybe he doesn’t want to ruffle feathers of those who guard his house)

    I don’t expect the athletes to do anything, but I respect the ones who do and the respective commissioners who have who by and large have kept their mouths shut. Stern would’ve shut it down after Rose

    1. He did, spoke o the Rice family when the Cavs got back from Brooklyn when they played the Nets. I didn’t like LeBron the Person before he left Cleveland in 2010 or when he was a Miami Heat, but he’s winning me over this time, I am 100% Cleveland-Born and Raised; as much Crap Cleveland gets OUTSIDE the city and state Us Natives struggle with Leaving or Staying to Help (which is why “The Decision” ticked folks off: it was How he Left, not Him Leaving in Itself).

    2. Lebron confused me when he said he hasn’t talked to his sons about Ferguson/Mike Brown. They’re Tamir’s age, this happened in their area, and his kids surely use the internet so it’s odd that he said that in an interview.

      Adam Silver has won over a lot of people by being progressive about players wearing the shirts. And I think Goodell can’t say anything about it because, well, the NFL leadership is a joke right now.

  2. As a Father (to a Daughter), a Black Man, Soldier and College Grad. everyone except Watson pretty much said and did the Right Thing(s). Athletes don’t “have” to be Role Models or Activists, but it is Great WHEN they Do Stand and Speak. With this seemingly becoming a 2nd Civil Rights Movement, much is out here and at stake for not just the Famous, but All of Us to Act in whatever Positive Capacity Possible.

    Do I expect Athletes to “walk out” of leagues to show solidarity- No, yet could you imagine the Power and Support that would give? With every police chief/commissioner and officer being “offended” that We Black Folks have had Enough of Police Brutality, and Blatant and Subtle Racist/Bigot that can’t and won’t see the Facts and Personal Experiences of Black ppl of Discrimination would be more impactful than what the “Arab Spring” was years ago.

    WE have the Culture, the Consumer Capital ($1 Trillion Spending), Technology and the Young and Smart Voices to make Noise and Change- The Opportunities to Act must be Taken, not Asked or Begged For. If the likes of Sharpton, Jackson and the Congessional Black Caucus won’t Listen or Help then they are Also Part of the Problem and must be Pushed Aside

  3. I’m happy to see the discussion and the civil displays of displeasure with issues concerning our treatment. I’m also dismayed by the dismissal of any attempt of us to challenge our fervor in ‘getting our own house in order.’ I hate the term ‘respectability politics’, because what it says is that our image doesn’t matter. When I say image I mean our values and principles not necessarily how we look aesthetically. Our forebears during civil rights understood that in my opinion. In my area of Georgia, we recently had a shooting at a club where two people were killed. I don’t want to trivialize the cases in question, but my cry to my community is: Police didn’t do this, we did. Where is the passionate outcry from the masses, where is the determination to make sure this stops? Sure we mourn for the families, but these instances don’t hold the nation’s attention as long as and as deep as cases where we can get behind race, gender, etc. I want the perpetuation of our least common denominator to cease so that we can fight the battles of injustice and oppression unified and with a common purpose.

  4. Activism for everyone shows up in many different ways. It’s not always visible, so you if you’re waiting on someone else to do something than your missing the moment when you could be that person saying or doing something that would create a shift in this world.

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