LeBron: 'You pray for the families'

NEW YORK -- A day after protests broke out in New York City following a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer responsible for the choking death of Eric Garner coincided with the funeral for Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old recently shot to death by a police officer in Cleveland, LeBron James was asked to weigh in on the events.

"It's the same statement I made before," James said after the Cavaliers finished shootaround Thursday before a 90-87 win over the New York Knicks. "It's a sensitive subject right now. Violence is not the answer and retaliation isn't the solution. As a society we just have to do better. I pray for the families of the lost ones.

"Obviously anytime you lose someone, it's a downer for the whole family, and I'm not going to get too far involved in the logistics of the things because I'm not a part of it, but you pray for the families."

Less than two weeks ago, James said the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the officer responsible for the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, "hit home for me," and he lamented the rioting, looting and overall violent reaction to the news.

Amar'e Stoudemire, speaking after the Knicks' loss, said he was "pretty upset" that he wasn't involved in any of the protests in New York.

"I think it's something that's, it's very alarming in our country as far as that's concerned," Stoudemire said. "We have to be more conscientious of what the law enforcement's job is, and that's to protect and serve. Those two words are very strong when you think about that.

"Your first job is to protect, and your second job is to serve. Obviously it's not happening that way. So we've got to figure out a way to create a better economic unity for all of the have-nots."

New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson -- a St. Louis native -- reaffirmed his position, as well, while discussing the issue at the team's facilities in Florham Park, N.J.

"Destroying Ferguson is not what I wanted to come from the verdict of the grand jury," Richardson said. "I wanted my whole city to stay intact. I don't think we'll bounce back from that -- the area of Ferguson, anyway. That's just how I feel about it. I just want my hometown to stay as peaceful as possible, but I don't blame them. I know where they're coming from, but that's not the solution."

James has chosen to take a stance publicly on social issues facing the United States for several years now. In March 2012, James and then-teammate Dwyane Wade had a photo taken of the entire Miami Heat team wearing hooded sweatshirts -- the same style hoodie teenager Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was shot by George Zimmerman in Florida -- and posted it to social media along with the hashtag #wearetrayvonmartin.

A reporter compared James' gesture in response to Martin's death to the "hands up, don't shoot" display five St. Louis Rams players made prior to their team's 52-0 win over the Raiders last weekend.

"It doesn't matter if you're an athlete or not," James said. "If you feel passionate about it or it hits home to you, you have the right to speak up on it. That's why we have freedom of speech. For me, I've never shied away from something that I feel for -- for people, for families that I feel for. And that's just who I am. But I don't think we should add pressure to anybody, first of all, that doesn't have enough knowledge about it, that's not educated upon it to speak about something that they just don't know about. If you feel passionate about it, you speak up on it. If not, don't worry about it."

Regarding Rice's death, James was asked what he thought about another tragedy occurring, only this time virtually in his backyard.

"It doesn't matter," James said. "It's more troubling that it's happening in our country. This is our country. It's the land of the free and we keep having these instances happen -- innocent victims, or whatever the case may be. Families are losing loved ones and I'm not pointing the blame on anybody that's making it happen. I think in this society we've come a long way, but it just goes to show how much further we still have to go."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley and ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini is included in this report.