Tag Archives: NBA

‘Ground Jordan’: How Racial Politics Has Repeatedly Shut Michael Jordan Down Like No Other Opponent Ever Could

I will be honest with you, my initial thought was that ‘hell had truly frozen over’ when I heard that Michael ‘Air’ Jordan had issued a political statement.

I immediately discounted the reports because I clearly remember Jordan utterly refusing to issue any sort of political statement out jordanof fear of compromising his bottom line financial concerns. Jordan efficiently communicated that financial issues, particularly as they were associated with his sneakers and brand, were his foremost priority when he refused to address African-American issues because as he publicly stated, “Republicans purchase tennis shoes as well.”

During his career ‘Air’ Jordan carefully crafted every aspect of his image from not appearing for post-game interviews without a suit through avoiding the appearance of choosing a side on any political issue, especially if it dealt with Race in any form, shape, or fashion. In time it became clear that Jordan was the standard-bearer of the blasé political persona that NBA ballplayers were to aspire to.

Although I would like to say that this appearance of what should be termed ‘political’ Jordan is a major step in the correct direction, the truth of the matter is that after reading this middle-of-the-road statement, ‘Air’ Jordan has consciously decided to remain grounded in regards to Race matters.

Jordan’s statement, in its entirety, follows:

As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by Jordan origionalthe divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.

Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly hodges and jordanestablished Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.

We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.

Although I would love to champion this as a sign of his ‘Airness’ maturing; unfortunately, it does appear that Jordan’s political voice Jordan wait 2is not always muted as he has proven to be willing to speak out on behalf of the discrimination that the state of North Carolina has legalized against the LGBT community. I partially suspect that even Jordan’s decision to speak out against the aforementioned legislation flows from his deep-concern that the NBA would move its annual All-Star game from the State, a decision that was recently made.

In regards to speaking out on behalf of his indigenous community, not much has changed as the ‘Jordan Rules’ appear to still be in effect.

One question that continually gnaws at the back of my mind is why should a person such as Jordan who lives in another racial reality Jordan waitthat allows his pre-occupation with financial matters to trump his racial identity speak on behalf of the Black community? As with every other venue, the Black community has not given Jordan an ounce of a reason to do so when one considers that the Air Jordan’s debuted in the mid-80s and come hell or high water our people have lined up to purchase them as they were participating in a sacred Black ritual.

Although many will fawn over Jordan’s slight gesture, I only hope that they realize that in basketball vernacular Jordan’s statement holds little more significance than a slight jab step, it is most definitely not one of Jordan’s signature drives to the basket.

However, I guess it is a little bit of something.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.

THE JORDAN RULES: HOW MICHAEL JORDAN UNRAVELS ‘BUY BLACK’ CAMPAIGNS

Racial uplift plans began prior to the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Most certainly since the slave era ended in 1865, African-Americans have attempted innumerable plans to improve the community by addressing its financial douglass2shortcomings. A diverse group of leaders from Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, T. Thomas Fortune, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr., Madame C.J. Walker, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan, have all advanced slightly different formulas that promised to lift African-Americans out of the economic chains that have held them so firmly.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of these programs are relatively simple in that they call for the rise of a Black entrepreneur class that creates businesses to serve the needs of the African-American community. The rather simple formula calls for the FarrakhanAfrican-American community to support these businesses with an unbreakable loyalty. According to most Black Nationalists, the circulating of the dollar within the African-American community is the only reasonable means of economic improvement. Such thinkers are most certainly motivated by Malcolm X’s famous quote of, “You run down your own community when you give your dollar away.”

Often ignored in such economic formulas is a final step that calls for Black businessmen to honor the African-American community’s unending loyalty by re-investing their monies in new businesses, philanthropic endeavors, depositing their money in Black banks who will then issue loans to aspiring business owners, and the hiring of community members. Failure to do such destroys the entire racial uplift campaign as it is doing little more than enriching individuals whose wealth is not ‘trickling down’ to the masses that it was built upon. One of the greatest examples of such is the basketball icon Michael Jordan.

Although one can have a robust argument regarding who is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Innumerable names appear in that discussion: Oscar “the Big O” Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, dr jJulius “Dr. J” Irving, Larry Bird, Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and the list goes on and on. However, there is one arena that is indisputable in regards to the aforementioned basketball legends, that being, who has been the most financially successful player away from the court. Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA Champion, stands without peer in regards to off the court financial success. Jordan’s unprecedented off the court financial success is attributable to the sneaker empire he has built with the aid of Nike.

I am certain that there are many who believe that Ervin “Magic” Johnson rivals Jordan in post-athletic career earnings, those people are wrong. According to Nike Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker, the Jordan “Jumpman” brand “…transcend(s) sport and culture across gender, age and geographies…(opening up a) world of opportunity…”

Jordan has been able to accomplish something that seems impossible by increasing endorsement dollars after retirement. In 2004, the year after Jordan retired from the National Basketball jordanAssociation, the six-time NBA champion earned $28 million dollars in endorsements. Today, the Jordan brand was raking in more than $100 million in endorsements; more dollars than any active NBA player. In fact, one could combine the endorsement dollars of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and still not equal Michael Jordan’s total.

According to the initial theory of racial uplift, the African-American community has proven their loyalty to the Jordan Brand by spending millions, if not billions, of dollars purchasing everything produced with the infamous “Jumpman” logo on it. Unfortunately for the African-American community, Michael Jordan has proven to be a non-factor in racial matters. I am reminded of Jordan’s stance of neutrality when asked which political party he belonged to; Jordan slyly declined to answer the question before quipping, “Republicans buy shoes to.” There is no doubt that Michael Jordan is neither a Civil Rights activist nor interested in practicing socially responsible individualism. He is quite simply a Capitalist interested in earning as much money as humanly possible.

I think that there is much to be learned from Jordan’s refusal to aid in the uplift of his people despite their loyalty to the Jordan Jordan wait 2Brand. Quite possibly the largest lesson to be gleaned is the harsh reality that current ‘buy Black’ economic programs are going to be woefully insufficient if Black business owners are absent a commitment to uplift the race that matches those who are religiously supporting them. Unless Black businessmen have a developed sense of loyalty to the race, ‘buy Black’ campaigns will never improve the economic status of the community one iota, it will simply lead to the financial prosperity of a class of Capitalists who have no desire to aid others.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race, and Culture

Allen Iverson: The Icon

MVP!

All-Star!

Olympian!

Fearless!

Scoring maestro!

Relentless!

The greatest little man to ever play on the hardwood. During his 15 year illustrious NBA career, long time Philadelphia 76ers point guard  Allen Iverson was known by these IVERSON 3labels and countless  more.  All of these titles I are undoubtedly well deserved. Though there is  an additional title that Iverson, who just celebrated his 40th birthday, undoubtedly deserves: counter-culture icon.

During the 1980’s and 90’s, NBA superstars such as Larry Bird,Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan had a certain ‘look’. Clean cut, no tattoos, and a million-dollar smile. All of that changed when Allen Iverson was selected by the 76ers in 1996. Iverson’s appearance immediately turned the league on its head via what can be best termed a defiant embrace of hip-hop culture. Instead of following the status quo like those superstars who came before him, “The Answer” forged his own uniform of — shooting sleeve, cornrows, headband and most disturbing to many adorning his entire body with tattoos.

Iveron’s fashion choices away from the court also ruffled a few feathers. Iverson presented himself as the poster-child for urban gear by IVERSON 1religiously  wearing a throwback jersey, do-rag, fitted cap, sneakers, baggy jeans, and inordinate amounts of gaudy jewelry . Quite frankly, Iverson appeared to have stepped out of a yet to occur 2000 Rap Music video.

Despite the fact that  Iverson received continuous criticism  from myriad basketball aficionados who charged that the superstar guard was nothing more than a “narcissistic jewelry wearing thug” ruining professional  basketball, millions of young fans all over the world, myself included, adored Iverson’s ‘swag’.

As an adolescent growing up during the height of  Iverson’s popularity, I vividly remember how my peers and I idolized him. Every year without fail,when the latest edition of the NBA 2K  video game series was released, I created an Allen Iverson clone, complete  with cornrows, headband, arm sleeve, and copious tattoos to my mothers chagrin and father’s horror. My friends homes were most likely in similar disarray as they religiously adorned their bedroom walls with posters, pictures, magazine articles and anything else bearing Iverson’s likeness.

Older generations failed to understand Iverson’s appeal to my generation. Put simply, our adoration of Iverson was not attributable to his fashion choices, hairstyle, or body markings, it was the fact that every fiber of Iverson’s being was a boisterous public declaration that conveyed my generation’s unstated preference to display to the world, parents included, who we actually are. Put simply, we would rather be loathed for being ourselves than loved for being someone we were not.

My friends and I loved the fact that Iverson unabashedly immersed himself in hip-hop culture, and that he  openly admitted to listening to our favorite artists at the timeIVERSON 2 such as  T.I., Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy. For an entire generation of adherents, Iverson was  not just another superstar athlete, his style of play and attitude resonated so profoundly that he was akin to an older brother engaged in many of the struggles and conflicts that future generations of African-Americans would battle.

Regardless of one’s perspective of Iverson, there is no denial that his imprint can never be removed from either professional basketball or today’s African-American male. Had  Iverson not displayed the courage to march to the beat of his own drum and dress in attire that was frowned upon, today’s stars like Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade would not have the luxury of wearing the eccentric garb they prefer .

The compression sleeve that Iverson during his playing days  wore consistently  has become commonplace today as stars like Kyrie Irving, John Wall, and Dwight Howard now don the accessory. NBA Store reported that the sleeve is the most popular non-apparel item sold by the NBA .

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James once said “I didn’t want to be Michael or Magic…I wanted to be Allen Iverson.”   New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony added that “an entire generation owes (Iverson).” Clippers guard Chris Paul summed it up perfectly  remarked that Iverson is “the most influential player of all time.”  Quite honestly, it could not have been said better.

Alexander Goodwin

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015

How the ‘Talented-Tenth’ Could Help Save African-American Males

There are certain mantras that one never forgets; for me it is the belief that ‘perfect practice prevents piss-poor performance.’ Put simply, that thing that you spend the bulk of your time preparing for you will excel at. A superficial examination of the contemporary state of African-American males verifies the mantra.

Unfortunately, there has been a competing mantra that has been drilled into the heads of the vast majority of African-American males. That mantra conveys a belief that their only path to financial CARDALE 3success lay in their athletic prowess. This thinking has prodded droves of African-American males toward athletic careers, a focus that has recently meant the abandonment of more reliable avenues of professional success. For verification one has to look no further than the current racial composition of the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). African-American males make up approximately 6% of this nation’s population; however, they currently are 76.3% of the NBA players and 68% of all NFL players. Clearly these individuals have displayed extreme dedication in honing their athletic abilities and prodigious skills. At the same time that we are dominating sports leagues that offer careers that last on average 3 years, the percentage of Black professionals has steadily decreased. Currently African-Americans make up only 3.2% of lawyers, 3% of doctors, and 1% of architects; keep in mind that these paltry numbers included all African-Americans, male and female.

It has not always been this way as the Black community of yesteryear was a bastion of occupational diversity. African-American leaders knew that if their communities were to survive, let alone efficiently meet the needs of its residents, it dubois1needed to grow its own doctors, attorneys, educators, business persons, etc. W.E.B. Du Bois would refer this population as the ‘talented-tenth’.  According to Du Bois, “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst.”

The ‘talented-tenth’ were under a mandate to handle the often difficult, yet rewarding, task of setting a standard of excellence within the community and serving as courageous representatives that defended the poor during the frequent attacks that emanated from hostile whites. Members of the ‘talented-tenth’ were revered within the community; particularly among Black youth who aspired for a similar status once they reached adulthood.

Unfortunately for the Black community, it appears that African-American males, the population that disproportionately populated the ‘Talented-tenth’, have lost their way. Quite possibly the most significant sign of contemporary African-American males undeniable lack of clarity regarding the purpose of life is found in their failure to prepare for adulthood, meaning the responsibilities of taking on a wife and producing offspring, by mapping out a plan that calls for them to focus upon anything other than athletics or a rap career. Unfortunately for many African-American males living in this nation’s urban centers, an athletic career is their plan A, B, and C. Considering that less than one-percent of these aspiring professional athletes will ever realize their dreams, that leaves droves of them, as well as those they are responsible for, in a tenuous socioeconomic position.

We often fail to view the horrific fallout that follows unrealized athletic dreams. However, they do go a long way towards explaining the following facts:

  • Black America represents over 30% of this nation’s poor; we are only 14% of the general population.
  • Approximately 50% of Black children live below the poverty line; only 16% of white children are in a similar predicament.
  • The net worth of a Black family is $6,700; white net worth is $67,000.

Now there is a tendency to blame ‘racism’ for all of the woes affecting Black America, however, a close look college 4proves that a few of these maladies flows from an individual’s inability to map out a path to success. It is this path to success that African-American males are in desperate need of today; a path that the largely vanquished ‘Talented-tenth’ used to guide them toward via mentoring relationships.

Hence, it is imperative for the Black intellectual and professional classes to return to the Black community, a request that does not necessarily cause them to return to Black neighborhoods, and mentor African-American males toward a future that does not include bouncing or running with a ball. I would hope that you agree that African-American males have so much more to give; unfortunately, their potential contributions are too frequently being de-railed because they have chosen to believe that a ball, and not their brains, is their only path to financial success and a productive adult life.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.

Houston We Have A Problem: What the Snatching of Steve Francis’ Chain Tells Us About Black Males

One of the primary problems affecting Black males today is that African-American men hesitate to speak up about the foolishness they witness daily; in fairness, many of African-American men have tired of repeatedly attempting to correct Black males in their foolish ways. One of the most significant concerns that leads African-foiAmerican men to not chastise the few is an extreme desire to avoid substantiating the discriminatory thoughts and stereotypical constructs of a hostile white community. However, there is near consensus among African-American men that is only discussed behind closed doors or in barber shops, that there is a segment of Black males who must not only be considered the wretched of the earth, but also should be immediately ostracized if the race is to progress, let alone survive.

The late Dwight Errington Myers, commonly known as Heavy-D, once recorded the following lyrics on the classic tune Self-Destruction that was aimed at uplifting the Black community.

Aayyyo, here’s the situation: Idiodicy
Nonsense, violence, not a good policy
Therefore we must ignore, fighting and fussing
Hev’ is at the door so there’ll be no bum-rushing
Let’s get together or we’ll be falling apart
I heard a brother shot another. It broke my heart
I don’t understand the difficulty, people
Love your brother, treat him as an equal
They call us animals mmm mmm I don’t agree with them
I’ll prove them wrong, but right is what your proving them
Take heed to what I’m sayin
Or we’ll all be on our knees, praying.

I am certain that you are wondering why I chose to write about this matter. Well the answer to that is two-fold: (a) I have tired of the niggardly culture enveloping many Black males within my community, a culture that is predicated upon little more than disrespecting one another — currently it appears that the most significant sign of Stevedisrespect is the snatching of a person’s chain that they wear around their neck as some sort of spoils of war or trophy; truthfully this has been occurring for some time in the hip-hop community, (b) the latest victim of a chain snatching is former NBA player Steve Francis.

Now this crime is fertile ground for myriad questions such as what is a 38-year-old Stevesteve 2Francis doing on the stage at a Sauce Twinz concert? Big K.R.I.T. I could understand, Sauce Twinz not so much. However, that is not the most important thing that occurred on that stage.

Experts have repeatedly related that the repeated viewing of violence in Hollywood movies and video games leads one to become desensitized to violence. Put simply, repeated exposure to such mediums will potentially leave their kids with little sensitivity to senseless violence; in fact, those who are repeatedly exposed to such events will adapt and often pursue such encounters in their personal lives.

I see a similar process that has led many Black males to become desensitized to the immorality that envelopes their entire existence. Unfortunately, the alluded to individuals pimp c1have adapted to their surroundings and created a culture that Richard Majors terms the ‘Cool Pose’. According to Majors, the ‘Cool Pose’ is a set of language, mannerisms, gestures and movements that “exaggerate or ritualize masculinity. The Essence of cool is to appear in control, whether through a fearless style of walking, an aloof facial expression, the clothes you wear, a haircut, your gestures or the way you talk. The cool pose shows the dominant culture that you are strong and proud, despite your status in American society.”

Majors goes further in his analysis when he relates that Black males who assume the Cool Pose “…can appear competent and in steve 3control in the face of adversity…It may be his only source of dignity and worth, a mark that hides the sting of failure and frustration. Much of cool pose is ritualistic imitation of peers. If you’re not seen as cool, you’re an outsider. It’s a way to be included.”

Noted newspaper columnist Clarence Page chimed in on this matter when he related that those who chose to make this a hallmark of their life generally, “lack the education, income or social status that comprise real power. Black cool was born as a reaction to the denial of these opportunities. (Clarence Page — Chicago Tribune 11/30/86).

Unfortunately for Black males who have chosen to adopt the Cool Pose, they apparently spend so much time attempting to pretend to be the part that they fail to Steve 7ever step back from their game of charades and spend any time actually developing the tools needed to be the part. Put simply, they are ‘all sizzle and no steak.’ However, they are the most loud and boisterous populace within a highly diverse population of African-American males and in many ways set the standard of manhood.

And that is most certainly a very scary prospect to the nation, particularly their indigenous community that is continually under politico economic attack from outsiders who have no need to Steve 6participate in a charade such as the ‘Cool Pose’ because they have the politico economic power that Black males pretend to possess. What makes it truly ironic is that the ever increasing power that outside communities wield like an Excalibur in their pursuit of additional power comes from the cowardice of these Black males who are so busily being ‘cool’ that they are for all intents and purposes irrelevant when it comes to truly important educational, political, economic, and social power, the ingredients that create real power, not this façade that they have not only enveloped themselves within, but also are afraid to leave out of fear that their powerlessness would be on display for the entire nation.

James Thomas Jones III

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015