NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan waves goodbye to staying silent.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, July 25, 2016, 4:06 PM
So now, after two decades in the NBA and three decades pitching us sneakers and Hanes and Gatorade, Michael Jordan has finally found his voice.
Now, Michael Jordan can, in his own words, “no longer stay silent” on the scourge of violence that’s destroying this nation.
Michael, nobody ever kept you silent in the first place.
This is how you know the waters are safe now, that being activist as a professional athlete is the “in” thing: Michael Jordan has joined the party after nearly 53 years of never speaking his mind. His Airness, who for two decades never had an opinion other than “drink Gatorade,” is now “a proud American” and “a black man” who is suddenly “saddened and frustrated” over issues that have torn this nation asunder for 200 years.
So on Monday, there was Jordan, joining the chorus of athletes already begging for peace in this nation by penning a powerful statement to TheUndefeated.com.
In 1997, Michael Jordan celebrates after the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz to win the NBA title.
If only he’d had the courage to be more than the powerful backup singer that he is now. Here’s Jordan, after a quarter-century of laryngitis on social issues, playing the follower to a younger generation of athletes spearheading this charge, piggybacking on the shoulders of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Here’s Jordan, pouring out his heart after playing only the marketing game for so long that you couldn’t help but wonder if this was about marketing and renewed cultural relevance, too.
Here’s Rip Van Jordan awakening to the injustice that’s been there all along, even though he spent the bulk of his playing days in Chicago, long one of the country’s most violent cities.
“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement,” Jordan wrote Monday, “and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.
Michael Jordan poses with the new Air Jordan XX3 sneaker.
“I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers — who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all — are respected and supported.”
It was all complete truth, and it was delivered with so much eloquence – and that’s precisely why it was all so disappointing. When you look back on the young Jordan, you see a man who always oozed that eloquence and so much charisma, a man who could dictate and control a discussion and own any room.
Two decades ago, that voice and presence could have drawn attention to these “racial tensions,” could have pushed a nation to start to “find solutions,” could have been “deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement.”
Two decades ago, that voice and presence just sold “Space Jam.”
Michael Jordan drinks some Gatorade during a news conference.
But now that a new trail has been blazed, now that Anthony is writing himself an off-court legacy, here’s Jordan, wide awake to the issues of this country, trying to be more than Crying Jordan.
And here you are, Michael Jordan, just in time. For all the opportunities missed, so much time remains, so much time to make an impact. Memes aside, you remain powerful, now perhaps more than ever, the lone African-American majority owner in all of pro sports, with a voice and presence that still sell shoes.
Yours is a voice that can still make an impact, capturing a different audience, perhaps, capturing those who won’t read Anthony’s Instagram posts or follow track Twitter or tune into the ESPYs. Yours, Michael, remains a voice that commands respect, that can prompt an older generation to “all work together” in the way you want.
Your voice, Michael Jordan, can still play a part in the racial conversation, can still fuel a legacy past 30.1 points per game, now that you’re silent no longer.
About damn time.