Michael Jordan has been a crucial intermediary between NBA owners and the players association in talks surrounding the future of the NBA season, according to reporting by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.
Jordan is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, chairman of the NBA Labor Relations Committee and the only Black majority owner in the league, making that role for him a natural one. He’s also, of course, arguably the greatest player to ever grace a basketball court, with a keen understanding of the pressures and rigors of the life of a high-profile athlete.
Per MacMullan, Jordan has been actively engaging with representatives on both sides of the aisle — with the players, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook; with the Board of Governors, he’s reportedly pushed for owners to listen to and amplify the players’ message.
Jordan drew criticism during his playing days and post-retirement for not using his platform as an athlete enough to advocate for political and social justice issues. A significant portion of Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” was dedicated to digging into Jordan’s refusal to publicly endorse Harvey Gantt, a Black man and Democratic challenger to Republican Jesse Helms, in the 1990 U.S. Senate race in North Carolina, and his infamous “Republicans buy sneakers, too” comment.
Now, NBA and WNBA players, along with athletes across the professional American sports landscape, are taking an historic stand, catalyzed by the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to take the floor for Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic in protest after police officers in Kenosha, Wis. shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back.
While Thursday’s games were postponed, NBA players have reportedly decided to resume the season. The league said it is targeting a return to action either Friday or Saturday, and players and owners are set to meet over video conference Thursday to “discuss next steps.