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Bundesliga footballers join LeBron, Jordan in US protest

MANILA, Philippines – The sports world's reaction to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd leapt leagues and continents Sunday, May 31, as sometimes violent protests continued across America.

French footballer Marcus Thuram and England international Jadon Sancho called for justice for Floyd after scoring in Germany's Bundesliga.

Thuram took a knee after scoring for Borussia Moenchengladbach in a match against Union Berlin while Sancho marked 1 of his 3 goals for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn by lifting his jersey to reveal a t-shirt bearing the words "Justice for George Floyd."

Their demonstrations came a day after Schalke's US midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband against Werder Bremen bearing the words "Justice for George."

Thuram's gesture echoed the protest of US racism spearheaded by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the national anthem at games in 2016 sparked outrage.

The gesture has now been heartbreakingly compared to the death of Floyd, who pleaded that he could notbreathe as a Minneapolis policeman held a knee on his neck for minutes.

"Do you understand now?" NBA superstar LeBron James tweeted above the contrasting images.

"First professional hat-trick. A bittersweet moment personally as there are more important things going on in the world today that we must address and help make a change," Sancho – who was yellow-carded for his protest – wrote on Instagram.

Thuram, a 22-year-old striker, had scored his team's second goal shortly before halftime of a 4-1 win over Union Berlin when he dropped to one knee and bowed his head.

At halftime, his club tweeted a photo with the caption: "No explanation needed."

Gladbach coach Marco Rose said Thuram had his backing.

"Marcus has made the point. He has set an example against racism that we all support," Rose said of Thuram, whose father, French World Cup winner Lilian, runs the Education Against Racism foundation in Paris.

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris were among a number of NBA players who took part in demonstrations over the weekend.

Brown returned to his native Georgia to lead a peaceful protest march in Atlanta.

"I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community," Brown said. "Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don't exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I'm a black man and I'm a member of this community."

'We have had enough'

NBA icon Michael Jordan, famously shy of social commentary during a career that included 6 championships, issued a statement on Sunday backing demonstrators.

"I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country," said Jordan, now an owner of the Charlotte Hornets. "We have had enough."

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, himself a son of a policeman, said that as protests escalated, it was imperative to keep Floyd's death at the forefront.

"The response we are seeing across the nation, to the murder of George Floyd, is decades in the making," Rivers said in a statement. "Too often, people rush to judge the response, instead of the actions that prompted it."

"We have allowed too many tragedies to pass in vain. This isn't an African-American issue. This is a human issue," Rivers said. "Silence and inactivity are not acceptable anymore. Now is the time to speak. November is the time to vote."

The Minnesota Timberwolves promised on their Twitter feed: "We're not gonna normalize this. We're not gonna feel desensitized to this. We're not going anywhere."

"I can't and still can't find the words to say or express how sad I feel," 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams said in an Instagram post that featured a video of a young African-American girl overcome by emotion as she addressed a public meeting, finally able to force out the words: "We are black people, and we shouldn't have to feel like this."

Rising US tennis star Coco Gauff, a 16-year-old African American, had a simple question on an Instagram post that featured the faces of black Americans who died in recent years at the hands of authorities or white fellow citizens.

"Am I next?" Gauff asked, while two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father Haitian, reminded her social media followers: "Just because it isn't happening to you doesn't mean it isn't happening at all." – Rappler.com