Basketball legend Michael Jordan's op-ed Monday on the topic of police brutality, especially as it pertains to the intersection of race and law enforcement, was a rare moment in which "His Airness" delved into politics. The Undefeated published the exclusive first-person piece in which Jordan lamented both "the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement" and "the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers."
The op-ed followed two contentious weeks that included two black men being shot and killed by police under questionable circumstances, tense protests and law enforcement being fatally targeted by civilians in apparent cases of payback. In voicing his opinion on the recent events, Jordan announced he would donate $1 million each to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s new Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The gesture was both greeted warmly and chastised on Twitter for perhaps being a ploy to help sell more of his pricey sneakers, but Monday was far from the first time Jordan offer social commentary of sorts about a political topic du jour. Here are five other examples of Jordan getting involved politically.
North Carolina's HB2 Law
Late last month Jordan — the owner of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets franchise — was reportedly speaking with North Carolina lawmakers about the state's controversial so-called transgender bathroom law that calls for people to only use restrooms that correspond to their gender at birth. However, it wasn't clear what his position was.
On Thursday, after the NBA decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte over the law, Jordan issued a statement that seemingly didn't take one stance or another. "We understand the NBA's decision and the challenges around holding the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte this season," he said. "There was an exhaustive effort from all parties to keep the event in Charlotte, and we are disappointed we were unable to do so."
Years later, fellow basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, offered his take during an NPR interview on the apparent snub: "He took commerce over conscious. That’s unfortunate for him, but he’s got to live with it."
'Republicans Buy Shoes Too'
Jordan has typically been apolitical, but his refusal in 1990 to endorse a Democratic, black candidate in a North Carolina senate race left a lasting impression on many. "Republicans wear sneakers too" is all Jordan had to say for himself when pressed for further explanation.
Perhaps it was President Barack Obama's professed love for basketball that led Jordan to host a fundraiser for the commander in chief's reelection efforts, but that's exactly what happened in 2012. That was four years after the hoops legend donated to Obama's first presidential bid, Forbes reported.