By Jason Whitlock
Michael Jeffrey Jordan finally found a cause he can get behind off the court: being an obstacle for any black kid dreaming of matching or exceeding Jordan’s wealth.
Now that NBA superstars have decided to fully engage in the lockout negotiations and threaten union decertification, David Stern and ownership have decided to unleash their token minority owner from the house to play hardball. According to The New York Times, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, the greatest player of all time, is the owner most determined to bury the union financially. Jordan allegedly wants current players to take a 10- to 20-point basketball-related-income pay cut.
This is the ultimate betrayal. A league filled mostly with African-American young men who grew up wanting to be like Mike is finally getting to see just who Michael Jordan is. He’s a cheap, stingy, mean-spirited, cut-throat, greedy, uncaring, disloyal slave to his own bottom line.
Nike’s “Air Jordan” marketing strategy was based on getting black inner-city kids to worship Jordan and his shoes. Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, the Fab Five, etc., made Michael Jordan a billionaire. The NBA Players Association fought like crazy so the Bulls could make $30 million balloon payments to Jordan in each of his final two seasons in Chicago.
And now Jordan, as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, wants to be the face of ownership greed and vindictiveness.
With Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison on his resume, Jordan is arguably the most incompetent NBA executive working today. He wants the current players to pay for his incompetence.
This is ego and arrogance run amok. Jordan believes he’s untouchable. He clearly has no respect for current NBA players. If Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher have any leadership ability, they should use Jordan’s betrayal as a rallying point. They should attack the “Air Jordan” brand. Why would any young basketball player wear the apparel of the man leading the charge to rip billions of dollars from the pockets of professional basketball players over the next 10 years?
Why would basketball players and black people continue to shower adoration on a man who has never once stood up for anything that doesn’t positively impact his financial bottom line, particularly when it’s a man who has made billions off the love of inner-city kids?
Why love someone who doesn’t remotely love you back?
“This generation of black men needed Michael Jordan,” an all-time great athlete told me Friday night.
Jordan should be the guy counseling LeBron James, teaching him how to perfect his game, his image and his business portfolio. But Jordan is not a giver. He’s a bloodthirsty competitor. And he’s a hater. He’s middle-aged and bitter that the current players — even the mediocre ones — can earn way more than he did in all but two years of his career.
That’s the joy of creating wealth, freedom and opportunity. The people behind you get to enjoy it more than you. Unlike Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and countless other all-time greats, Jordan is actually celebrated, remembered and revered publicly and privately by current players for creating the NBA prosperity the players now enjoy.
There’s no reason for Jordan to be drunk on haterade. These kids deserve the money, even if some of them blow a percentage of it making it rain at strip clubs. I’m not defending their financial irresponsibility, but we do need a little context. When we tell the stories about the athletes who are broke three or four years after retirement, we often leave out the details about the countless friends and family members the athletes helped while blowing their money. They “blow” money on school clothes, private schools, medical bills and college tuitions, too.
I fully comprehend the shortcomings of modern-day pro athletes, but I do not understand the outright hatred of them. They don’t deserve it.
Save the venom for a hypocrite sellout who can easily betray the very people who made him a billionaire global icon.
Michael Jordan should be the “basketball voice” in the owners’ meetings, the owner most concerned with the health and image of the on-court product. Jordan should be the guy bringing both sides together to do the right thing for the game.
He should pay a price for his betrayal. There should be a player-led boycott of his Nike brand. The current players should do everything in their power to make the Air Jordan brand unfashionable in the ’hood and the ’burbs.
Don’t support a man who stood for nothing until it was time to do the bidding of billionaire owners.
Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can’t imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him or follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.