Michael Jordan is known for locking out the media. You'll catch him saying some basketball-related stuff at his camps, or can see him perpetually advertising Hanes, but on the whole, the GOAT doesn't talk publicly. When he does it's never about social issues, and reads pretty neutral, arguably bland. One issue for which he's come under fire is his silence on the recent spate of police killing black people. (Jordan is, after all, the only black majority owner of a sports franchise.) On Monday, he finally released a statement about the shootings to The Undefeated.
He opens the relatively short letter with:
"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 the 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."
Jordan then announced that he will donate $1 million each to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, in support of the organisations' efforts to "build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement."
Jordan also acknowledges that, "[a]lthough I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organisations make a positive difference."
Jordan's statement has already come under fire on Twitter for being too little, too late.
Jordan's stance on police brutality comes a full year-and-a-half after LeBron James and other NBA players wore shirts that say "I Can't Breathe" – Eric Garner's last words before dying as a result of a chokehold by New York Police. LeBron joined Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony earlier this month by opening ESPN's ESPY's with a speech imploring athletes to take a political stance against police brutality, so that their voices may be heard.
With a profile as high as Jordan's, it may be late, but it's certainly an important step.