NBA commissioner Adam Silver told a Princeton audience that when a handful of the league’s stars wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warm-ups last year, following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, he appreciated their effort to express their point of view. “Derrick Rose, I think, was the first player to wear the T-shirt,” Silver said. “Credit to him — he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew how much more effective that would be than making a statement to a reporter after a game.” But Silver cautioned that too many political statements on the court would be “a disservice to the fans, who come to see a basketball game.” Steve Mills ’81, general manager of the New York Knicks, and Craig Robinson ’83, an ESPN commentator and former college coach, joined Silver for a March 24 discussion of “Political Expression and Activism in Today’s NBA,” moderated by Professor Eddie Glaude *97. The event was sponsored by the Center for African American Studies and the Department of Athletics. Mills, who also has worked in the NBA’s league office, said that players have an opportunity to express their views, but not a responsibility to do it. He suggested that speaking to the media could be one powerful way for athletes to convey their thoughts and be leaders on social issues. Glaude asked if the socially conscious pro athlete has faded in the brand-conscious era that began with Michael Jordan’s emergence in the 1980s. Silver replied, “In fairness to Michael, one of my 30 bosses right now [Jordan owns the Charlotte Hornets], Michael is a genuine person. … He chose not to be in the political theater. It just wasn’t him.” On the other hand, prominent players like Rose and LeBron James, Silver said, have been more comfortable taking political stances. In the hour-long forum at Richardson Auditorium, the panel discussed the downsides of AAU basketball, Silver’s swift rebuke of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, diversity in NBA front-office jobs, and messages that the leaders in professional and college sports should be sharing with young athletes. On the latter point, Robinson spoke about how coming to Princeton changed his life and urged a greater emphasis on the academic side of college sports: “It’s extremely important for everyone who understands what an education can do, and how transformative it is in lives, to get these young, especially black, athletes to get their degrees and to become pros outside of their sport.”