Heat players sent message in right way

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Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat aren’t the first athletes to use a photo to make a statement.

Gold medal swimmer Amanda Beard did it to much less fanfare four years ago in Beijing when she unveiled a nude poster of herself in front of an American flag in an anti-fur protest at the Olympics.

The Chinese weren’t happy about it, showing up at the hotel and shutting down a news conference before it began. Beard ended up displaying the poster in an impromptu gathering outside the athletes’ village, while police and security officials looked on.

Wade and the Heat faced no such problems. LeBron James posted a picture Friday that showed the team wearing hoodies, with each of the players’ heads bowed and hands in pockets – putting the image in front of his millions of Twitter followers.

Later that night, the Heat took the court in Detroit with slogans honoring slain teenager Trayvon Martin written on their shoes.

It was simple, yet dramatic. And it accomplished what Wade, James and others wanted – to bring even more attention to a case that has sparked a nationwide outcry.

If Wade and James were making a statement, though, they made a very careful one. Unlike the NBA players’ union, they didn’t call for the resignation of the police chief in the Florida community where Martin was shot to death, or demand the immediate arrest of the person who shot him.

Instead, they talked as fathers with sons who ask for hoodies for Christmas.

They used their platform as NBA superstars to deliver a message from the heart. And they got it right.

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