Los Angeles – NBA superstar LeBron James was among the athletes taking to social media in outrage over the death of a black man in Minnesota after a white policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Four Minneapolis police officers were fired on Tuesday over Monday's incident in which a handcuffed George Floyd can be heard repeatedly moaning and gasping while he pleads, "Please, I can't breathe, please, man."
James, a four-time NBA MVP, weighed in on Instagram Tuesday with a post that referenced Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who famously kneeled during the U.S. national anthem to protest racial injustice.
The post includes a photo of the officer pinning his knee on Floyd's neck alongside a photo of Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem while a member of the San Francisco 49ers. It was topped with the caption "This … … Is Why."
James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, also wrote in the post "Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke."
Kaepernick popularized the gesture of kneeling during pregame renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 2016. He became a free agent after that season and has yet to be signed by another team. Other players joined in Kaepernick's protest, drawing the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump. Kaepernick's activism was seen as a reason teams are wary of signing him.
Other figures from the sports world also spoke out on social media.
"This is murder. Disgusting," Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr tweeted. "Seriously, what the hell is wrong with US????"
Warriors star Stephen Curry lamented yet another death involving an unarmed black man at the hands of law enforcement.
"I've seen a lot of people speak up and try to articulate how fed up and angry they are," Curry wrote on Instagram. "All good and well but it's the same same same reality we live in. George Floyd. George Floyd. George has a family. George didn't deserve to die."
Retired Lakers legend Magic Johnson also hit out, saying Floyd had been "clearly murdered."
"How many times do we have to see black men killed on national television? This has been going on for entirely too long," Johnson said.
"We need to start seeing black people as human beings and not animals on the street."
Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tweeted: "Worlds honestly sickening. It really is….. no explanation."
Basketball Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie, a two-time WNBA champion, tweeted: "If anybody that follows me is not outraged about these senseless attacks on BLACK MEN, please stop following me! If your spirit is not disturbed, please stop following me!"
"This inflicted Pain but it will never inflict FEAR… sorry, were not made like that! #BlackMenMatter," she added.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Lawrence also voiced his outrage.
"DONE BEING QUIET AND DONE BEING ANGRY," Lawrence tweeted. "HOW CAN WE FEEL SAFE WHEN THOSE MEANT TO PROTECT US ARE KILLIN' US?!!!! WHEN WILL MINORITIES BE FREE TO BE AMERICANS IN AMERICA!?"
Former U.S. soccer star Taylor Twellman posted the video on Twitter with the message: "When will it stop?! Honestly this is murder in plain daylight."
Floyd's death drew comparisons to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in New York after being placed in a chokehold by police, begging to be released and saying, "I can't breathe."