At first glance, you might think the image on this T-shirt is a silhouette of the iconic image of Marines at Iwo Jima raising the American flag. The original photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal has become a memorial to U.S. Marines.
But look closer. The screenprint is really a group of men raising up a basketball hoop.
The T-shirt originally produced by the brand Under Armour with the slogan "Band of Ballers," a spinoff of the World War II book and miniseries "Band of Brothers," was deemed offensive to some and has since been discontinued.
"This is a memorial. With the names of the fallen. Not some group of 'ballers' putting up a basketball hoop," Brett Duffus commented on Under Armour's Facebook page. "I will never even think of buying an under armor product again. I hope they get pulled from all the military px's as well."
"I want you to know that I think this shirt is really in poor taste," Heidi Harting wrote. "I know we have turned in to a country of 'you hurt my feelings and I don't like it so stop' but this is something a little deeper then that. I don't want to shame you for it or 'ban' your clothing, just maybe try to make you understand .... I know you all love the troops. I know because you offer your clothing at a discount price to them, I know because every day I see our troops wear your clothing on deployment, to PT for all kinds of things. So maybe it was an oversight or maybe even just something you didn't realize but this is really such a bad taste idea. A lot of Marines died on Iwo Jima, a lot. Raising that flag was a beacon, of hope. Our museum is a reminder of that day, of that hope. This week we lost more Marines, Marines doing humanitarian work, in Nepal, doing good work, again a beacon...of hope. Please don't take away our beacons ...don't minimize them. Thats all."
"Are you guys serious? Who approved this?" Jd Gruntstuff added. "I can't believe I actually saw this on your website. I'm embarrassed to own anything with the Under Armour logo. Here's a piece of advice... discontinue this shirt immediately and issue and apology to the veterans who served in WWII who you've blatantly disrespected."
And those are just a few of the dozens of comments Under Armour received.
Shortly after the backlash, Under Armour announced that it would discontinue the T-shirt and issued an apology.
"Under Armour has the utmost respect and admiration for the men and women on active duty and veterans who have served our country," it wrote on Facebook. "As such, we deeply regret and apologize that a T-shirt that was not reflective of our values in honoring and supporting our country's heroes went on sale. We have taken immediate action to remove it from retail and will take great measures to ensure this does not happen again. Supporting those who serve our country has been part of our brand's DNA since the very beginning, and through our partnerships and by working directly with military organizations, it will always serve as the foundation of our efforts to give back."
(H/T: New York Daily News)