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Danny Ainge Has 'No Problem' With Players Speaking Out On Social Issues

BOSTON (CBS) - Citizen protests abound throughout the country in the aftermath of the Ferguson and Eric Garner grand jury decisions, the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland and other perceived injustices.

Athletes are participating in these protests as well, albeit in a different form than taking to the streets.

It started with the St. Louis Rams and the "Hands up, don't shoot" gesture during players introductions before their game on November 30, and the movement has since taken on a life of its own.

Recently it's taken hold in the NBA, where superstars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Garnett, Kyrie Irving and others have worn during warmups "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts, the phrase repeated 11 times by Staten Island man Eric Garner before being choked to death by a police officer.

"Players are just like people and they can do what they want," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich.

"They have to abide by a standard of the league, and I don't know what the commissioner feels about wearing non-uniform things in pregame. It would be interesting to see [Adam Silver's response], I know that [former commissioner] David Stern might have thrown a fuss about that kind of thing. I don't know how Adam Silver would react to it."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has in fact reacted to his players' social commentary, and he'd prefer they not wear protest garb on the court. Nobody on the Celtics has donned the t-shirts, but Danny Ainge wouldn't take issue if they did.

"Players have the right to voice their opinion. I'm not really big on following the opinion of players or celebrities any more than I am my children, my next door neighbor or my wife and their opinion. But players have a lot more attention on them and they have opportunities and a forum to speak their political views and all sorts of views. I don't have any problem with it at all."

Listen below for the full discussion, where Ainge revisits the Brooklyn Nets trade, talks about Rajon Rondo's breakfast with Kobe and recent late-game benchings, talent evaluation and much more:


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