Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

30 Years Later, Michael Jordan Still Can't Admit He Was Wrong For Not Standing Up When It Counted

Thirty years after failing to support black U.S. Senate candidate battling a bigot in Jesse Helms, Michael Jordan still can’t admit he was wrong.
Thirty years after failing to support black U.S. Senate candidate battling a bigot in Jesse Helms, Michael Jordan still can’t admit he was wrong.
Photo: Getty

In the basketball world, for sure, Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T. — the Greatest Of All Time.

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But in the socially conscious world, MJ is the W.C.B.O.A.T. — the Worst Conscious Brother Of All Time.

And that’s saying a lot because Tiger Woods is still walking around on God’s green Earth.

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Worse, after nearly 30 years with all his fame and riches, Jordan still couldn’t bring himself to simply admit that he messed up, made a huge mistake when he wanted no part in Democrat Harvey Gantt’s run against known bigot Jesse Helms for a North Carolina senate seat back in 1990.

This wasn’t an ordinary race. Gantt, who is black, had a chance to make a real difference, to help change an unjust culture that Jordan hated growing up in. Helms was a bad man for black people. He was white and proud. And loud, too.

And Jordan, well he finally copped to saying the line about that senate race that did more damage to his legacy than any other:“Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

In the Last Dance documentary which aired Sunday night on ESPN, Jordan was even uncomfortable to talk about it. Sadly, he squirmed to get the answer out.

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And guess what? Many black people didn’t buy it 30 years ago. And still didn’t get it this time around, either.

Jordan wouldn’t have been hurt by making an endorsement back then. The same goes for now. In fact, Jordan would have probably gained some of the supporters back who still have an issue with him for turning his back on his people when he could have helped at the height of his celebrity.

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The only thing more amazing than His Airiness’ answer was that the controversial topic was EVEN in the documentary. Trained NBA America journalists — not the fanboy bloggers and lapdog so-called media these days running around with credentials — just assumed that the topic wouldn’t even be mentioned.

After all, this is Jordan’s baby, his view of his career. And usually in these kinds of accounts, minus journalistic integrity and true-event honesty, you get too much of the good, and not enough of the flaws..

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Still, you have to give Jordan and the doc’s crew some credit, it was in there.

But like in his attempt at a major league career, Jordan swung and missed.

He said this: “I never thought of myself as an activist. I thought of myself as a basketball player. I wasn’t a politician. I was playing my sport. I was focused on my craft.

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“Was it selfish? Probably. But that was energy.”

Instead, Jordan should have said that he made a mistake. He was young, dumb and let the wrong white people get in his ear. For sure, like most on that money-making perch, they beat into a brother that he should stay neutral, not get white people mad so they will buy his sneakers and the soda pop he was pushing in commercials.

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For all his flaws, especially when the G.O.A.T. conversation comes around, LeBron James has beaten Jordan in this category — and it ain’t even close. LeBron spoke out in the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the Eric Garner death in NYC. Better yet, James hasn’t been afraid to take on President Trump. He even endorsed Hillary Clinton — publicly. And he’s tweeted at Trump, in an attempt to push back at the President’s sometimes nonsense.

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And although LeBron didn’t play the same tough guy role against China, he, at least, has had a voice on issues in his career. That’s admirable.

Even Tiger, whose picture is in the dictionary when you look up the term on the fence, burst onto the scene and took on The Man in his first Nike TV commercial. In it, Woods talked about golf courses that wouldn’t allow him to play there. For sure, it wasn’t because he’s a Cablinasian. Black Tiger, back then, was taking on the establishment, the status quo.

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Then the white, er white shirts, got to him. And then he became a card-carrying member of Switzerland on black issues.

Shockingly, earlier in The Last Dance, Jordan ripped Wilmington, N.C. He basically said his hometown was a racist place and he wanted nothing more than to get out of there. Yet, when his OWN mother asked him for a favor, to help Gantt and the black people in North Carolina, he wouldn’t.

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To be fair, Jordan has done plenty for his people in need with his millions, mostly silent. He recently built a much-needed medical center in Charlotte.

Still, too often, influential athletes offer green, as in money, rather than attach their name to an issue for their people.

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For sure, nobody wants black athletes to be standing on their soapbox everyday, trying to solve all of this country’s ills. If they did, it would leave them little time to actually play ball.

But there is a time and place when a prominent athlete can use their profile and platform to not line their pockets, but enrich the lives of people who look like them. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

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Enter Muhammad Ali.

The reason people — both black and white — loved Ali so much wasn’t just because of his boxing skills. He lost a number of times and wasn’t the best boxer we’ve ever seen. But Ali went from a hated draft-dodger to lighting the Olympic torch for this country in Atlanta in 1996. And the only reason: he stood up and was counted for his beliefs. Being respected is that powerful. Courage is admired, even often by the people you stand up against.

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Ali gave up his boxing career for what he believed in. Jordan couldn’t even lend his name to a noble man trying to better life for his people.

Yep, Jordan is the W.C.B.O.A.T. Sunday’s broadcast still proved it.

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