Tag Archives: Michael Jordan

The Decision 2: LeBron’s Rejection of NBA’s Attempt at Social Activism

It won’t get nearly the same attention as the tv special, but LeBron James’ rejection of the NBA’s attempt to raise social awareness is the 2020 version of ‘The Decision’. From the moment it was announced the NBA would allow players to replace the names on their jersey’s with messages about social justice we have waited with bated breath to see what they would be.

LeBron Rejects NBA’s Social Activism

 

Speculation met reality when we got the list of approved messages last week. They were about what one would expect, “Black Lives Matter”, “I Can’t Breathe”, “Vote”, etc.

Some players have begun announcing what they have chosen. Milwaukee Bucks forwards Giannis Antetokuonmpo and his brother Thanasis have chosen “EQUALITY” for their message. Others have been a lot less enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Boston Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown was vocal in his displeasure with the league. He said the pre-approved list was an example of the “limitations” the NBA is putting on players.

“I think we should be able to express our struggle a little bit more… I was very disappointed in the list as well… Hopefully, maybe, we can get some more names on that list or some more things to add.” – Jaylen Brown per Masslive.com

The ‘Not’ Heard Around the World

Over the weekend, Shams Charania of the Athletic tweeted out that James had decided against putting one of the messages on his jersey; choosing to stick with his name, ‘James’, instead. Even with all the dissatisfaction from others out there, the backlash was almost instant.

“I actually didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” James said on a video conference call with reporters. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed out to all the players. I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It’s just something that didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.” – LeBron per Dave McMenamin/ESPN

LeBron’s critics were seemingly waiting for a moment like this. Not too long ago, they ran with his response to Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong. At the time James said Morey spoke on a subject he didn’t know enough about. The detractors were swift to point out James, who is very outspoken on social justice issues, was choosing to side with China. How can he claim to want justice for all while citizens in Hong Kong were being teargassed?

Supporters had a couple of choices of rebuttal. First, James is vocal on issues that affect the Black community, of which he is a member. Second, he is vocal about domestic issues of which he is educated. No matter how sound the counterpoint, though, the vocal naysayers had all the ammo they need.

Gotcha!

It’s not like their charges are without merit. After all, LeBron was leading the charge to restart the NBA; saying players could still fight social injustices on the court. He also has started the “More Than a Vote” initiative and has long had “More Than An Athlete”. The latter is a direct response to those that would prefer athletes to stick to sports; an argument that people only use when they disagree with the athlete.

He even tweeted ‘#FREEWOJ’ in support of ESPN basketball insider Adrian Wojnarowski; who was suspended for replying to a US senator using profanity via e-mail. All that did was invite the ‘#FREEHONGKONG’ replies.

“I would have loved to have a say-so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process, which is OK. I’m absolutely OK with that. … I don’t need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I’m about and what I’m here to do.” – James per McMenamin/ESPN

Marcus Smart shared similar sentiments, stating “A lot of guys are upset…” with the lack of input players had in the making of the list. But LeBron’s decision still looms as the largest.

Stand For Something…

As current and former teammates, black and white, take the opportunity and use the messages, social justice’s most-vocal advocate in the NBA seemed to punt. It is a relatively new “trend” for LeBron, but some will say his voice shrinks when the money is on the line.

This is a ridiculous argument given all that he has done with the I Promise School and all of his other initiatives, including his production company to give people of color opportunities they otherwise have trouble securing. He has put his own money, face, and words behind these projects.

His actions off the court will forever outweigh anything he has and will do on the court. The optics here aren’t great, nonetheless. Perhaps he has some pre-game attire or a message will be written on his shoes. For many, though, the damage is done. They will call LeBron a hypocrite among other, less-flattering things and say this is akin to Michael Jordan‘s  “Republicans buy sneakers too” comments.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be holding our breath that they can actually finish the season. Because, again, there is nothing LeBron can do on the court that will outweigh what he has and will do off of it. That includes placing a league-approved message on the back of his jersey.

Triple Zeros: Nuk the Competition

NBA: Return Date Uncertain | Dinwiddie: KD Greatest Scorer
NFL: Clowney Declines Browns | Nuk: “I know I’m the best.”
+More!

It’s Time for ‘The Last Dance’

We’re only 3 days away from the start of what will be the GOAT of all sports documentaries, (the ESPN 30 for 30 ’85 Chicago Bears’ currently holds that title).  The highly anticipated 10 part  “The Last Dance,” which documents the extraordinary career of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls; specifically his final season, ‘97-98.

The program will air on ESPN starting Sunday, April 19th and will run every Sunday, through May 17th.   If there are any bright sides to this pandemic this is definitely one for the sports world.  This documentary was not slated to be released until early June but ESPN heard our wish and it was granted.

Time for the Last Dance

Nostalgia…

Oh, the 90s. Hard to believe that decade started over 30 years ago and basketball during that time was some of the best you would ever see, especially if you were from Chicago.  It was the decade where Jordan cemented himself as the greatest basketball player of all time, or the GOAT if you will.  The decade whereby the turn of it the run of the Los Angeles LakersBoston Celtics and Detroit Pistons comes to an end.  Thus, the Chicago Bulls dynasty was born.

Just like the 90s was the golden era of rap, (now the genre is classified as hip hop), it was also the golden age of basketball with the Chicago leading the way.  The Bulls six championships  (via two three-peats) and the sheer dominance of MJ, his Airness, gave the sport a meteoric rise in popularity worldwide.

This was also the time a teammate, Scottie Pippen, developed into a bonafide superstar.  If you need a reference, see his player card and the 1993-94 season…you’re welcome.  In the 1996 campaign, we saw them break the single-season wins record going 72-10, a record that stood pat for 20 years until 2016 when the 73-9 Golden State Warriors broke it.  Some, especially Chicagoans, may say the Warriors really didn’t surpass that Bulls team because the deal wasn’t sealed, no championship!

Who can ever forget one of the greatest shots in not only NBA Finals history but NBA history period!  Michael Jordan’s final career shot over Bryon Russell to defeat the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Finals giving Chicago their sixth NBA championship.  Well, we thought it was his last shot but you’ll have to tune into ‘The Last Dance’ to see.

Reminisce Over You!

Let’s flashback to that 90’s time, think about what you were doing then, (at least those of us that can).  For myself, it was the start of those crucial teenage years we all go through.  My formidable high school and college years as well.  To my fellow Gen X’ers and millennials, who were definitely raised on it, think about the music you were listening to.  My goodness, the music! Personally, it was R&B (it’s final hoorah) and rap (it’s golden era as mentioned before).

The artist that laid their foundations during this time, Jodeci, Mary J Blige, NWA, 2PAC, Jay-Z, Diddy and a host of others.  Just blow the dust off that CD collection and look through it and watch how those memories flow through your mind.  Yes, I said CDs, before the luxury of modern technology that was our Spotify and Pandora.  Who else put their phones to the stereo speaker to record your answering machine greeting?  We can’t reminisce about the 90s without mentioning the fashion, just google the styles for that decade.  You’ll probably see the most popular footwear were Jordans,  which is still true to this day. They debuted 35 years ago; yes 35!

What To Know Before the Big Dance

For those that need to brush up on some history of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, here are a few points you want to know:

  • Michael Jordan was drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 NBA draft.
  •  Phil Jackson and Tex Winter were the head coach and assistant coach, respectively.  Winter was the architect of the iconic triangle offense that Jackson implemented to perfection.
  • Jerry Reinsdorf is the owner and the late Jerry Krause was the GM.
  • Jordan retired after ‘93 season to play baseball for the Chicago White Sox and returned in the middle of ‘95 season.

Now that we have some info to reference it’s time to dance, I’m sure we’re all in for a great one.  Those who know the history and those who may be just novice, this will give even more insight into Michael Jordan the man and it will be breathtaking.

Code-19: Living in a No Sports Zone

March 11th, 2020 will forever be known as the day the world stood still, the day that sports stopped. It’s been a little under 3 weeks (21 loooooong days) since the NBA shut down amid the coronavirus, aka COVID-19, aka code-19 pandemic. I know this has put one big thing in perspective, what the world looks like without sports, and I don’t like it one bit.

Living in a No Sports Zone with COVID-19

Baby, Come Back!

This is showing us how important sports are to our lives. You know how you’ve got that empty, pit drop in your stomach feeling after losing your first love? That’s how it felt hearing the announcement NBA was suspended indefinitely after Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert tested positive for that ‘Rona.

Since that discovery, the COVID-19 pandemic has made its rounds in the sports world getting to several well-known athletes and even our favorite announcers. Reaching the likes of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and ESPN’s beloved NBA analyst Doris Burke. So, this thing is real!

I’ve been watching sports since the tender age of eight, (I’m 43 now), when my father introduced me to football. It was Super Bowl XX Sunday when the Chicago Bears defeated the New England Patriots 46-10. Like for everyone, in those 30-plus years since we’ve never seen anything like this. So, what does one do when you’re quarantined and stuck in the “No Sports Zone?” (For those that remember, that’s an ode to the Twilight Zone intro).

Finding an Alternative

Well if you’re like me, you get familiar with that lady in the house. Oh, that’s my wife, and it turns out she’s very interesting. I also finally have time to catch up with all those Netflix shows and movies I promised myself I would watch. My personal fave is The Ozarks with Jason Bateman, I’m already ready for season four! Another one to check out is the documentary, Tiger King, all I can say is whoa!

How about some personal gains, I have a language self-learning disc set I’ve had for the last five years. I think it’s time to crack that open. Hopefully, when we come out of this quarantine I’ll be a new, Spanish-speaking me (I wonder what my Vegas odds are). But this is a sports column so let’s get back to the business at hand.

Not All In

You know who else is going on as business as usual? The NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell said let’s keep the party going, starting with one of the most exciting free agents periods in recent memory. Maybe it’s sports being halted and what we’re going through that added to the excitement but none the less it is.

By the way, the 2020 NFL Draft is still going as scheduled, April 23rd-25th. This was truly a free agent frenzy. We wondered what the Bears were going to do, after 20 years of dominance in the AFC East Tom Brady left New England, Drew Brees coming back to the big easy & more.

Obviously, the biggest signing was Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but this is Chicago, so let’s look at our hometown Bears. In my opinion there free agent moves were, meh, we’ll delve into particulars at a later time, for now here are the key signings. EDGE Robert Quinn, (an upgrade from former first-round pick Leonard Floyd), tight end Jimmy Graham, bringing back linebacker Danny Trevathan, and trading for Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.

Hang In There

Though we’re in a “No Sports Zone” now, we can use our time to reset and come out refreshed on the other side. One good thing that came of this is the Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, is being released early so, yay! Now if the NFL season becomes in jeopardy of being canceled, then some panic may set in. Until then, let’s be safe and keep the positive vibes.