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    11 Comments     Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

    A Day That Will Live in Infamy

    Ten years ago, Michael Jordan announced his retirement from the NBA.

    There are certain moments that you’ll remember forever.

    Regardless of age or circumstance, my father will always remember where he was when JFK was gunned down in Dallas.

    My mother will never forget her feelings and her reaction, when her principal announced over the intercom at Charles E. Perry High School in Roseboro, N.C., “They killed Martin Luther King!”

    While not as world changing or life altering, Jan. 13, 1999 is a day that will live in infamy for as long as I live—which is hopefully a long, long time.

    Three thousand, six hundred, fifty-two days ago—10 years—Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan, arguably the most influential sporting figure of the 20th century, announced his retirement from the NBA.

    While he would return two years later for a two-year stint with the Washington Wizards, 1999 marks the end of “Air” Jordan—a legacy he carefully crafted along with the folks in Beaverton, Oregon (Nike).

    The dichotomy that is Jordan is one that can fill much more than the space allotted here and that sometimes can be troubling.

    On one hand you have the most charismatic, intimidating, fun, passionate, talented and skilled basketball player of all-time.

    Jordan, a man who could sell practically anything, was the face of companies like Gatorade, Nike and Hanes.

    He had a kids’ movie that spawned an inspirational staple of modern music—R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”

    Gatorade even had a song that encouraged children to follow in his footsteps and “Be like Mike.”

    His love of the dramatic shot and acrobatic play made him adored by media and people who might not watch basketball. No one brought in the casual fan like M.J.

    Jordan’s on-the-court creativity and flare were monumental assets, juxtaposed and ultimately overcome only by his vanilla, generic social and political views off-the-court.

    Certainly, Jordan did positive things for his birthplace, Wilmington, N.C. and in his adopted hometown Chicago.

    But, he made it a point to avoid controversy and anything that may jeopardize his legacy—or more importantly his revenue stream.

    At his alma mater—The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—Jordan was asked several times to help contribute to a free-standing black cultural center.

    To this date, folks with inside knowledge of the situation say that Jordan wouldn’t give money to what became the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black History and Culture.

    Carolina alums like Dre Bly and Stuart Scott helped pay for the building, but not Jordan.

    Allegedly, Jordan didn’t want to mingle in a controversy as steep and polarizing as the Stone Center.

    In the early 1990′s senatorial race between Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt, the black mayor of Charlotte, N.C., veteran writer and columnist Sam Smith said Jordan had opinions and views that strongly coincided with Gantt.

    But Smith said that when pushed to get on board and campaign for Gantt, Jordan gave his classic and often-quoted reply, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”

    It’s that sort of lack of overall responsibility and morale obligation that makes Jordan such a brilliant, enlightening yet semi-tragic figure.

    What makes Jordan’s decision to not speak out when he had the world listening and moving off his every word is that he had much more pull than his predecessors.

    Do you think, had Jordan made an overly political statement in 1992 against say Bill Clinton, he would be admonished in the same way Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Muhammad Ali were?

    Absolutely not.

    This may seem unfair to guys like Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods, but it’s not.

    There is a common theme in literature, pop culture and history, whether it be the Bible or a Spider-Man comic book.

    “To whom much is given, much is required.”

    Let’s hope the next generation of athletes follow that axiom, not Jordan.

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    This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 at 12:14 pm and is filed under Columnists, Goals Beyond The Post. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    11 Responses to “A Day That Will Live in Infamy”

    01.14.09 at 12:32 pm

    ToneKapone says:
    This is the problem with the world today…too often we look to the wrong people to speak out on issues…Mike doesn’t owe anyone anything…it is his right as an American citizen to speak…or shut up…whenever he feels like it…who is Michael Jordan to offer his opinion on anything?…aside from his prolific displays on the basketball court…Mike was a notorious gambler and an adulterer…just cause he could dunk a basketball…doesn’t mean he was qualified to offer an opinion on anything…why should he or for that matter Tiger or Lebron jeapordize their livelihoods just because we want to hear their opinion…stop looking to these athletes as heroes…they are just regular people…yea we were blessed with those from former generations…like Bill Russell…Muhhamed Ali…Arthur Ashe…and Jim Brown…who were open to expressing their opinions…but this current crop of athletes…most of whom were born and raised in the crack infested 80s…are of a new breed…they know what it is like to come from nothing and I don’t see them doing anything that would cause them to end up back there…lets be real…imagine it was Lebron’s contract season and he’s looking for a new deal…and then imagine that the Cavs owner was a die hard Republican…do you think Lebron would have jeapordized the opportunity to maake 10s of millions of dollars to go out and campaign for Obama like he did…not hardly…

    01.14.09 at 12:50 pm

    Rell says:
    The point, re: guys like Lebron is that THEY HAVE THE POWER TO HELP BRING ABOUT CHANGE. You think the owner of the Cavs (if he were a huge republican) would risk losing millions of dollars by not re-signing Lebron because he was pro-democrat? Come on, the only color that matters to the executives and owner types is green. That’s why people as big as Tiger and Lebron who are making a lot of people wealthy — have the power to help bring about change. Because so many people are relying on them to put food on their table.

    01.14.09 at 3:09 pm

    ToneKapone says:
    But the bigger point is…all those people were rich well before Lebron or Mike or Tiger came along…if Nike never sold another pair of Jordans or never put on another Lebron or Tiger commercial…Phil Knight would still be be rich…the owner of the Cavs was rich well before Lebron and he’ll be rich well after Lebron retires…so the’re not relying on any of those guys to put food on the table…they would be just fine without them…but what about Lebron Mike and Tiger…where would each of them be without the money they received from these rich people…more than likely…with the exception of Tiger possibly…they would be right back in the hoods they were born in…there’s a saying…”Dont bite the hand that feeds you”…and obviously none of those guys are gonna keep themselves from gettin fed just because we want to hear an opinion from them…but even if they chose to offer opinions on topics…what makes their opinion so influential…you mean to tell me that a person…who is undecided on a particular issue…is going to be swayed just cause Mike Lebron or Tiger says so?…there is not one college degree between the three of them…yet they are supposed to lead the way for us?

    01.14.09 at 9:57 pm

    rell says:
    Jordan got his degree and Tiger went to Stanford — hardly unintelligent. Whether we like it or not (Charles Barkley obviously didn’t) athletes ARE role models.

    01.15.09 at 8:30 am

    absulnasir says:

    01.15.09 at 7:02 pm

    killa says:
    U guys are expecting to much from athletes. If they were so profound with words and the ability to move people, they would be in another profession. People kill me thinking athletes are god-like. Parents should be role models to their children, not rich most of the time dumb jocks…

    01.17.09 at 4:11 am

    Drank King Productions says:
    Wow… She just killed Jordan… wow
    Columbus, GA Stand up

    01.19.09 at 9:53 am

    GO-Getta' says:
    MJ 4eva’

    01.20.09 at 9:30 am

    Lancelot Links: Top Sports Links | For the public, by The Public says:
    [...] Ten Years Ago, Michael Jordan Retired:  A Day That Will Live in Infamy  (King-Mag) [...]

    01.26.09 at 8:06 pm

    Paris says:
    This article I thinks speaks volumes about us, as African American’s.. The choice to speak out on politic’s or not is his choice. Black ppl have to realize that the calvory aint comming for us… I live in Chicago born and raised.. Quick story. The Bulls stadium sat in the middle of the ghetto.. My grandfather bought three vacant lot’s in the same erea for like $2,500 to $3,500 a piece in 1991 to 1993. when he used to talk to other black ppl about buying lot’s. He was laugh at. Black ppl told him why should we buy this shit it aint worth nothing. Black ppl should learn to listean to our neighboor’s. He died and left these lot’s to me. I sold these lots for almost 500,000 a piece in 2006. I told this short story because, we as Black ppl have to fight to get our own. Nobody black or white is going to help us. Stop looking at baller’s or self promoting Preachers for faith and leadership..

    01.31.09 at 7:06 am

    Leeroy Green says:
    To whom much is given much is required does not apply here because Jordan worked his butt off for everything he got. He is an athlete not activist.




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