Michael Jordan was an amazingly talented basketball player, and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous. Besides being paid very well for playing basketball, he created a mini-empire associated with his image. The Jordan Brand is now a subsidiary of Nike, and Jordan has lucrative deals hawking underwear, hot dogs, batteries and more. Despite a well-publicized penchant for gambling huge sums, he has earned enough money to become the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Even today, almost ten years after retiring, he is estimated to earn $40 million a year from endorsements.
And yet, outside of basketball, he hasn’t made a significant statement his entire life. The most famous example is when, in 1990, he was asked why he wouldn’t endorse Black Democratic Senate Candidate Harvey Gantt in his race against the notoriously racist asshole Jessie Helms, and Jordan replied “Republicans buy sneakers too”. During the lockout, Jordan was one of the most hardline owners deadest on lowering players’ share of Basketball Related Income, leading Jason Whitlock to write a vicious, angry column where he repeatedly called Jordan a sellout.
But this post isn’t about Michael Jordan, it is about LeBron James. The popular perception is that James (along with Tiger Woods, who, like Jordan and James, is a Nike athlete) is just as apolitical as Jordan, which was reinforced when he refused to sign a petition criticizing China’s role in Darfur. Granted, a year later he did lightly condemn human rights abuses, as well as donated money to Barack Obama’s election campaign, but neither of those are particularly strong statements.
This morning, however, he shattered those sentiments when he Tweeted a picture of the entire Miami Heat team wearing hoodies to support Trayvon Martin:
This was particularly good timing, coming at the same time as Geraldo Rivera essentially blaming Trayvon for having the audacity to wear a hoodie that night:
You see, Latinos buy sneakers too, and while I don’t have my finger on the pulse of Florida politics, there is a good chance that LeBron is pissing off a pretty sizeable demographic in Miami. Zimmerman, the shooter, is Latino (possibly Cuban, it is unclear), and a full 35% percent of Miami is made up of mostly Republican Cubans. It isn’t quite there yet, but this incident certainly has all of the ingredients to turn into a massive trigger point between races. This is no “We’re talking about people’s lives being lost and that means a lot more to me than some money or a contract” from LeBron, which was previously the strongest stance he had taken on anything important.
Here at The Diss., we’ve been working on a site redesign, which will include a banner picture. I asked a graphically-inclined friend to help me out, with the simple instructions that “it should look sweet, and say ‘The Diss.’ ” He gave me back a nice image of LeBron doing his powder routine thing. I sent it to blog founder Jacob Greenberg and his response was, and I quote from Gchat: “no fucking way LeBron is on my blog”. I don’t know if this is will change his mind, but I do know that there is no fucking way Michael Jordan will be on this blog.