Los Angeles Lakers frontman LeBron James is livid over a tweet posted by the Las Vegas Raiders, and he's not the only one.
Following Tuesday’s monumental murder conviction of ex-cop Derek Chauvin – who killed George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for nearly 10 minutes – the official Twitter account of the Nevada football team shared an image that read, “I CAN BREATHE," with the date of the trial verdict underneath.
It was an apparent attempt at an ode to the late Floyd, who repeatedly told Chauvin, "I can't breathe" while the white then-police officer pinned the black man down in a Minneapolis street. Floyd said those three words – while calling out for his "mama" – more than 20 times before taking his last breath under Chauvin's knee. And even then, the convicted murderer did not cease pressure, not even after the ambulance arrived.
As for the NBA star – who initially reacted to the guilty verdict by tweeting, "ACCOUNTABILITY" – he had this to say about the Raiders' controversial message: "This is real???? Nah man this ain't it at all. The F^%K!!!!"
Retired NFL star Torrey Smith was just as angry.
"Folks get paid to avoid stupid stuff like this smh," he tweeted, urging the Raiders to "delete this."
"The folks who are running the Raiders social media page is sleep, locked out of the account, or drunk in Vegas," he went on.
Smith echoed the sentiments of several critics when he wrote in a follow-up post, "I refuse to believe a diverse social media team ok'd that Raiders tweet."
Following a barrage of backlash from other athletes, celebrities and everyday social media users, the team's owner, Mark Davis, took responsibility for the tweet. However, he's refusing to delete it because, as he told the Associated Press, it's already everywhere. Plus, he feels it was a "powerful statement."
"It said a lot about everything. I thought it was something where we could all breathe again. Justice was served," he said. "We still have a lot of work to do on social justice and police brutality. But today, justice was served."
Davis explained he was driving when the guilty verdict was announced and that he heard Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, make the statement that "we can all breathe again." Mark said that's what inspired him to draft up the team's official response.
"It was taken negatively by 99 percent of the people," he noted, brushing off the backlash. "That happens. That's part of social media."
Philonise, however, is reportedly not offended by the tweet and is not demanding that it be deleted.
For his part, Davis said he was not aware that the phrase "I can breathe" was previously used by pro-police advocates in New York after the 2014 death of Eric Garner and explained he wouldn't have used it had he known its history and affiliation.
Torrey Smith, however, was painfully aware of it.
"I don't believe the Raiders were being malicious with their tweet but you have to have people around you that know the deal," the retired NFL star said. "Hiding behind the family saying 'They can breathe today' completely ignores what happened with Eric Garner and the T-shirts mocking his death."
As for Davis, he does have some remorse.
"It's a tough situation," he said. "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."
Chauvin was convicted on all three of his charges in connection to Floyd's death: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. His bail was revoked, and his sentencing will be in 8 weeks.