LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during warm-ups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center Dec. 8, 2014, in New York City.
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President Barack Obama gave the nod to the “I Can’t Breathe” protest shirt that basketball player LeBron James wore during a pregame warm-up last week, saying that he wanted to see more athletes stand up and speak out, CNN reports.

"You know, I think LeBron did the right thing," Obama told People magazine in a sit-down interview that hit newsstands Friday. "We forget the role that Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Bill Russell played in raising consciousness."

James is among a growing number of athletes, professional and college, wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirts during warm-up to express solidarity with New York City's Eric Garner, who died after being restrained in a choke hold by New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Earlier this month, a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in Garner's death, sparking nationwide protests and die-ins featuring the now-popular rallying cry.

Obama said that more athletes should step up and speak out on issues that they care for. The president also said that the days were over when athletes chose to be silent to protect endorsements. "We went through a long stretch there where [with] well-paid athletes [when] the notion was: Just be quiet and get your endorsements and don't make waves," he told People. "LeBron is an example of a young man who has, in his own way and in a respectful way, tried to say, 'I'm part of this society, too' and focus attention.

"I'd like to see more athletes do that," Obama added. "Not just around this issue, but around a range of issues."

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