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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Michael Jordan ‘took commerce over conscience’

Michel Martin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Michel Martin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

AP Images for NPR

Michael Jordan might have never said, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

But that quote carries on for a couple reasons.

1. It’s catchy.

2. It’s believable.

Jordan was apolitical and cared about making money.

NPR’s Michel Martin used that quote to ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about Jordan.


You can’t be afraid of losing shoe sales if you’re worried about your civil and human rights. You can’t be worried. It’s just the way it is. He took commerce over conscience. It’s unfortunate for him, but he’s got to live with it.

Abdul-Jabbar’s social conscience is admirable. I have a lot of respect for his willingness to take a public stand.

But this criticism of Jordan is unfair.

Beyond the fact he might have never said “Republicans buy sneakers, too,” Jordan shouldn’t be bashed for not sharing the same ideals as Abdul-Jabbar. Jordan is his own person. He’s entitle to use his platform in his own way, so long as he doesn’t cross ethical and moral lines. I don’t think political silence – a route taken by many – does that.

Abdul-Jabbar’s path is arguably more honorable, but that doesn’t mean he should denigrate Jordan by comparison.