Billionaire and retired NBA player Michael Jordan has come out in support of athletes, coaches, and team owners in the world of sports who have chosen to make a statement by "bending the knee" when the US national anthem is played at games.
Jordan has power...but does he use it?
Jordan, who is also the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and the man behind Nike's Jordan brand, is one of the biggest icons in the world of sports. He has millions of fans and is considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time. Despite being retired, his voice still carries an enormous amount of influence.
And yet over the course of his career, he has often been criticized for being silent on a lot of important issues. That has changed recently when in 2016, he spoke out against Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was given a lifetime ban by the NBA in 2014, when a recording of him making racist statements was released.
And it looks like it would take another Donald for him to speak out.
Recently President Donald Trump went on to verbally attack NFL players who would kneel at games and referred to them as "Sons of B***ches". The act was started by free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest what he believes is the oppression of people of color in the United States, other NFL players soon followed suit.
The backlash against Trump was swift, as the NFL community has chosen to lock arms and take a knee before games. It has also expanded beyond American football, into baseball wherein MLB catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee before a game.
Musicians Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder also chose to kneel during performances to show solidarity with the athletes. And in the NBA, which is Jordan's turf, the biggest stars of the sport have also spoken out against Trump when he chose to withdraw an invitation for the current champions, the Golden State Warriors, to visit the White House, because Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry was hesitant due to Trump's political stance on race.
Michael Jordan is supporting the right of these athletes and also people outside of the world of sports to speak out. “One of the fundamental rights this country is founded on was freedom of speech, and we have a long tradition of nonviolent, peaceful protest. Those who exercise the right to peacefully express themselves should not be demonized or ostracized,” he said via a statement. “At a time of increasing divisiveness and hate in this country, we should be looking for ways to work together and support each other and not create more division. I support Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA, its players and all those who wish to exercise their right to free speech.”
I guess if there is one good thing about Trump's tirades is that it is making influential but politically bashful public figures to speak out.