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On Sunday afternoon, Michael Jordan provided a statement related to the continuing protests and demonstrations that have been ongoing for the past several days. Jordan's words come on the same day that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar penned an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times (more info on that here).
"I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry," Jordan's statement began. "I see and feel everyone's pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people in our country. We have had enough."
Jordan continued urging for peaceful protests behind the cause, admitting that while he doesn't have the answers, the unification of everyone's voices is powerful enough.
"We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality, he added. "We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change."
Jordan also directly addressed and paid respects to George Floyd and the other victims of racially-charged violence.
"My heart goes out to George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice."
See the full statement from Jordan's original tweet below:
Jordan's statement, though relatively anodyne, is particularly notable due to a resistance throughout his career to talk about politics. In 1990, he was criticized for something he said in jest (though it often wasn't reported in this manner) during the lead up to the Senate race between Republican incumbent Jesse Helms and Democratic challenger Harvey Gantt. Jordan was asked to do a PSA for Gantt. He didn't, but he says he made a contribution to his campaign.
It was also reported at the time that he had said, in reference to the race, that "Republicans buy sneakers too." This statement was viewed as valuing his image/brand over any sort of principle.
However, his sentiment didn't translate well to print. The reporter who took that quote, Sam Smith, recently came out and defended Jordan by stating that it was something that was said to get the reporter to leave him alone, that it was funny, and that MJ hasn't "deserve[d] all the lazy cheap shots [he's] endured over the years because of what was really a wonderful, shut-up-and-stop-bothering-me-quip."
That quote came up again during a brief mention in the 10-part ESPN series The Last Dance, which recently wrapped up a few weeks ago. In the docu-series, Jordan explained that he wasn't comfortable speaking publicly about politics because it was a subject outside of his area of expertise.
"I do commend Muhammad 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," he said.