Michael Jordan: I Was Racist ‘Against All White People’ Growing Up
CHARLOTTE (CBS Charlotte/AP) — Basketball Hall-of-Famer Michael Jordan reveals he was racist toward white people when he was growing up.
In a new book entitled “Michael Jordan: The Life,” the six-time NBA champion told author Ronald Lazenby his hatred for white people when he was younger stemmed from the North Carolina community he grew up in having a huge Ku Klux Klan influence.
Lazenby said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that the KKK was like a “chamber of commerce.”
“As I started looking at newspapers back in this era when I was putting together Dawson Jordan’s [Michael’s great-grandfather] life, the Klan was like a chamber of commerce. It bought the uniforms for ball teams, it put Bibles in all the schools. It may well have ended up being a chamber of commerce if not for all the violence it was perpetrating, too,” Lazenby told Sports Illustrated. “A lot of the context just wasn’t possible to put it in a basketball book. A lot of it ended up being cut.”
The Charlotte Bobcats owner began to understand race relations after watching the critically-acclaimed miniseries “Roots.” He said he was able to learn about the suffering of his ancestors.
Then during an incident in 1977, he was suspended from school after throwing a soda at a girl who called him the “N” word.
“So I threw a soda at her,” Jordan said in the book. “I was really rebelling. I considered myself a racist at the time. Basically, I was against all white people.”
Jordan was also one of two black people on the baseball team at the time, and was called inferior while on the team.
Lazenby calls Jordan’s life a “black power story.”
“He’s been lampooned a lot because he was so great as a player that no matter what he did people were going to be disappointed in him. People look back on him playing baseball and now they think what he did there was remarkable. At the time, man, people were all over him. A lot of what he did with the Wizards obviously wasn’t mistake-free. But when you stop and look at it in the rear-view mirror a bit, you have to give him his due,” Lazenby told Sports Illustrated. “I started looking at Charlotte. He was rescuing the Chernobyl of the NBA after what happened with the Hornets the first time around and the poorly planned rollout of the Bobcats. It’s an economic story. It’s a black power story. It doesn’t come from politics or protests, it comes right off the Coastal Plain of North Carolina and out of the African-American experience.”
Jordan was highly critical of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments that were caught on an audio recording, saying he was “outraged” and “appalled.”
“As a former player, I’m completely outraged,” Jordan said in a statement. “There is no room in the NBA — or anywhere else — for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.”
Jordan thanked NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after he issued a lifetime ban against Sterling for his comments.
“I applaud NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s swift and decisive response today. He sent a powerful message that there can be zero tolerance for racism and hatred in the NBA,” Jordan said. “I’m confident that the league, our players and our fans will move on from this stronger and more unified.”
“Michael Jordan: The Life” hits bookshelves Tuesday.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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