Michael Jordan is known as the greatest basketball player the NBA has ever produced. He was also famously aloof and apolitical during the apex of his historic career.
Jordan, now 56, shares why he was so silent when controversial issues raged on during his playing career, including the Rodney King verdict, the L.A. riots and the Million Man March. This contrasts quite radically from, say LeBron James, who has been mostly applauded (until recently) for taking stances on certain issues, including police brutality and the killings of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.
Jordan was so uninvolved in the plight of regular urbanites that he was once slammed by former Chicago Bulls teammate Craig Hodges for being silent about the Los Angeles riots in 1992.
“When they came to Michael after the L.A. deal went down and asked him what he thought, his reply was that he wasn’t really up on what was going on. I can understand that, but at the same time, that’s a bailout situation because you are bailing out when some heat is coming on you. We can’t bail anymore,” Hodges told the New York Times Bill Rhoden at the time.
Jordan, this writer recalls, was also blistered for his flippant dismissal of the mass Black male gathering, the Million Man March in Washington D.C. in 1995, something that Jordan wound up backpedaling on.
But Jordan has been demonstrably outspoken in recent years and he explains to “Today” as to why that is.
“Why are you more outspoken now than you used to be?” @craigmelvin asks Michael Jordan about formerly being “apolitical”
“When I was playing, my vision – my tunnel vision – was my craft… now I have more time to understand things around me.” -Jordan pic.twitter.com/U1p7YuPfUM
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 18, 2019
Jordan demonstrated his new line of thinking when he blasted Trump for singling out Black athletes as they sided with Colin Kaepernick during his national anthem protests back in 2016.
“One of the fundamental rights this country is founded on was freedom of speech, and we have a long tradition of nonviolent, peaceful protest,” Jordan told the Charlotte Observer then. “Those who exercise the right to peacefully express themselves should not be demonized or ostracized. At a time of increasing divisiveness and hate in this country, we should be looking for ways to work together and support each other and not create more division.”
However, in August 2018, when LeBron James was singled out as “unintelligent” by Trump and Jordan was asked about it, he simply said: “I support L.J. He’s doing an amazing job for his community” on Twitter.
This signaled to some that Jordan will venture out only so far on issues. Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe expressed his disappointment in Jordan as a man who “wants to swim but doesn’t want to get wet” when it comes to social issues.
Check out what Sharpe said about Jordan on the next page: