Word out of Charlotte is that the great Michael Jordan himself continues to build on his legacy as an activist by interceding in the talks between the players and owners. NBA players have decided to resume the playoffs after meeting today with the owners and discussions are underway on exactly when they will resume play.
According to ESPN, Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets — and the only Black majority owner in the league — reached out to National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul in advance of the owners meeting to get a better understanding of what the players hoped to achieve going forward and to offer assistance as they make their case to the NBA’s board of governors. Jordan also spoke with Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook about issues of social justice that initially left some stars advocating for the cancellation of the season.
The owners held a virtual meeting on Thursday morning and, it has been confirmed by two participants, Jordan was a voice of reason, urging the other owners to allow the players to express their frustrations and concerns before offering any of their own solutions.
‘Right now, listening is better than talking,’ Jordan told the group, according to sources.”
Jordan is probably the most iconic basketball player to ever live and as the only African-American majority team owner in the major sports, he is an obvious choice to be a liaison between the players and his executive peers.
Once criticized for his failure to use his platform as a player to speak out publicly against social injustice, Jordan has put himself knee-deep and smack in the middle of a historical stance by athletes of color and their allies around the world of sports to refuse to play until some concrete plans for ending police brutality and systemic racism are addressed.
Pro sporting events continue to get postponed in the aftermath of a watershed moment in history on Wednesday night that saw all NBA playoff games, some MLB games, MLS games and all WNBA games postponed as the players unified to take a stand against police brutality and social injustice in the aftermath of the gruesome Jacob Blake shooting.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to boycott Game 5 of the NBA playoffs on Wednesday night set off a chain reaction. Tonight, all 3 NBA playoff games are postponed, all 3 WNBA games postponed, 7 NFL teams canceled practice today, the Western & Southern Open tennis postponed play following Naomi Osaka’s protest and even the NHL is also contemplating postponing tonight’s games.
Baseball is still very split on the issue, but the Rangers -A’s game has been postponed and the Blue Jays and Red Sox are considering postponing their games today.
The main reason why NBA players are returning to the court is that they know how the Bubble amplifies their voices and they have more power with that platform. Relinquishing it would be detrimental to the fight for social and racial equality.
And if these troubling issues aren’t addressed, then the players will continue to use their platform as a weapon against social injustice, police brutality, educational and financial disenfranchisement, and any other disease that has inflicted the Black and Brown community for centuries.
How fitting is it that MJ — The GOAT — is in a position to mediate things at such a contentious time. Last night it was reported that the Lakers and Clippers voted to boycott the remainder of the season. Players across the league were split on joining the LA teams, but the momentum was moving throughout the sports landscape and the heartfelt and passionate expressions of pain and anger that dominated TV, radio and social media made a season boycott a real possibility.
When LeBron James speaks the league listens and his tweets plainly expressed where he was on his tolerance meter.
There’s only one other voice in the NBA that holds more weight than LeBron and the owners immediately went to their secret weapon.
With the NBA season about to go down the drain and race relations in this country as bleak as ever, in swoops MJ to save the day.
Sure, Mike has personal interests to save the season, because as an owner he loses millions if the players choose not to play. But as a Black man who recently donated a huge bag to fight voter suppression, and has also contributed to many minority driven foundations and charities behind the scenes, Jordan understands the magnitude of the moment.
Nike and the Jordan brand announced in July that it will donate $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the NAACP Empowerment Program and Black Girls Cod.
He’s also expressed how proud he is of the players for taking these social stands and trying to improve the world.
So while Jordan will appear to be a savior to the oppressive ownership group that’s in this position because of its lukewarm support for social justice issues, he’s also the voice of reason for a group of players who, at the moment, are probably as angered and detached from basketball as they’ve ever been.
It looked like the NBA player hierarchy was ready to say “F” the season, but MJ had the ball in the fourth quarter and turned in one of his game-winning shots. During the meeting, it’s reported that the owners were very supportive of the players and were interested in ways in which they could help.
Whatever MJ said, worked, at least temporarily. The NBA playoffs will be completed, but its basically being held hostage by the decisions of law enforcement across the country. If another Black man gets shot by the police, not even James Naismith himself can save the basketball season.