“Republicans buy sneakers too” is the much maligned, taboo quote oft-attributed to Michael Jordan, in response to whether he publicly endorsed 1990 North Carolina Democrat candidate Harvey Gantt, who was vying to become the first so-called “African American” Senator in that state’s history.
During the fifth episode of The Last Dance documentary, Jordan confirmed he really did say what many consider controversial for some reason. And was refreshingly unapologetic about it.
That comment, rather than being maligned and controversial, ought to be praised for simply being true: Republicans and people of all demographics for that matter, buy sneakers too. And it’s just stupid for any athlete to alienate half of his clientele.
Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, the three highest sneaker sellers in today’s NBA are dwarfed by Jordan in shoe sales. Even when their sneaker sales are tallied, the total still falls short of a guy who retired from the game two decades ago. Proof, I suppose, of Republicans’ affinity for basketball shoes.
Also, for telling that truth and not apologising for it, Michael Jordan should be praised, not only as basketball’s on-the-court GOAT but as one of the off-the-court GOATs too. And he should be emulated. Especially if today’s stars want to come close to selling the number of sneakers he does.
“I don’t think that statement needs to be corrected” Jordan said of his Gantt statement on The Last Dance. “Because I said it in jest on a bus. You know, with Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen. And it was thrown off-the-cuff.”
“My mother asked to do a PSA for Harvey Gantt and I said look Mom, I’m not speaking out of pocket about someone I don’t know.” recalled Jordan. “But I will send a contribution to support him which is what I did.”
Not that that’s good enough for all the race-baiters, who continue to attack Jordan’s basketball legacy simply because he refused to play political ball.
Dr. Todd Boyd, author of the book Young, Black, Rich and Famous said: “The statement that emerges ‘Republicans buy Nikes too, sounds as though Michael is saying my personal wealth is more important than my politics as it pertains to the issue of race.”
And Roy S. Johnson of Fortune Magazine said this about Jordan’s Gantt decision: “Michael did lose some credibility with the African American audience. People were disappointed because he did not come out and support Gantt.”
Nowadays, it’s fashionable for sports pundits to compare Jordan’s absence of stances on “social issues”, to the stances Muhammed Ali and Lebron James (not surprising in the case of the latter) have taken; a thinly veiled attempt to diminish Jordan’s basketball legacy. They even posit that although Lebron will never surpass Jordan as a basketball player, he could or should be considered the GOAT because of his stances on social issues.
But we all saw what Lebron’s social stances amounted to last fall. And this media portrayal of Lebron as a big social hero is nothing but a big fat joke. One that was exposed for what it was when he stood for China at Nike’s behest against the oppressed people of Hong Kong. So much for Lebron’s social activism.
As for Ali, Jason Whitlock on his Speak For Yourself show debunked the notion that Ali was politically liberal, or could be cast in anyway as Democrat or Republican during his boxing days. But this doesn’t prevent today’s historical revisionists cum journalists, from conflating Ali’s religious beliefs, with social/political stances.
Jordan though, has remained unflappable in the face of this unfair criticism. “I do commend Muhammed Ali for standing up for what he believed in. But I never thought of myself as an activist. I thought of myself as a basketball player.”
“I wasn’t a politician when I was playing my sport.” Jordan added. “I was focused on my craft. Was that selfish? Probably. But that was my energy. That’s where my energy was.”
Jordan also recognises that “It’s never going to be enough for everybody. I know that. I realise that. Because everybody’s got preconceived ideas in terms of what they think I should do and what I shouldn’t do.”
“The way that I go about my life is, I set examples. If it inspires you, great. I will continue to do that. If it doesn’t, then maybe I’m not the person that you should be following.”
Excellent point. Clearly Jordan is good with the fact that he can’t convince every liberal loon that an athlete’s place is not to comment on issues he has very little grasp of. And he clearly doesn’t let their mad buzzing get to him.
Michael Jordan spent years building his legacy in basketball and after it was all said and done, most call him the GOAT. But in two short minutes in his documentary, Jordan just proved that he’s also the off-the-court GOAT.