Michael Jordan‘s been getting a lot of blowback from former teammates about the way “The Last Dance” portrayed the internal dynamic of the Chicago Bulls. It wasn’t easy being Jordan’s teammate, but most Bulls players pointed out they were not scared of him. As much as MJ’s treatment of teammates caused a lot of conversation, it was never his most significant criticism. That title goes to the perception that Michael Jordan was corporate.
“Republicans buy sneakers too” was taken out of context, but the quote caught on because it encapsulated a preexisting perception. MJ on the court had no regard for people’s feelings and being popular – Michael Jordan on the court worked very hard not to step on anyone’s toes and sell as many shoes, burgers, and Gatorade as possible. That’s why this statement surprised a lot of people.
This isn’t the strongest, most direct statement by a current or former NBA player, but taking MJ’s history into account, this is huge. Keep in mind when speaking up, MJ’s isn’t just basketball’s largest icon and (one of) the greatest players ever. He is also a team owner saying we need “to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change.“
This is the first time Michael Jordan spoke up on “ingrained racism and violence towards people of color in our country.” Changing an issue with such deep roots will take a lot of time and energy. Having one of the greatest athletes ever join the cause in such a public and direct way makes a difference. Our rage is understandable, but it’s crucial to keep two things Jordan talks about in mind.
We need to keep our protests loud and powerful, but not let them turn to violence. The second thing is – we need to vote. Whatever your political preference may be, there are candidates you can support that will make a difference. Register to vote and let your voice be heard.
Jordan’s statement joined many others from players such as LeBron James and Steph Curry, coaches Doc Rivers and Monty Williams to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, all sharing the same message – we need change, and we need it now.