When news about the racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling broke, reaction from one man drew everyone’s attention.
Michael Jordan, Hall of Fame player and Charlotte Bobcats owner, spoke of his outrage, surprising many after a long career spent avoiding controversy. Now, a new biography provides background on Jordan’s reaction.
In “Michael Jordan: The Life,” Roland Lazenby writes that Jordan was angered to the point of rebellion by what he saw as he grew up in a part of North Carolina in which the Ku Klux Klan was very active in the 1960s and ’70s. When a girl at school called him the N-word when he was 14 in 1977, “I threw a soda at her,” Jordan says in the book. “I was really rebelling. I considered myself a racist at the time. Basically, I was against all white people.”
At the time the Klan, Lazenby told Sports Illustrated, 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 said. “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 book, which goes on sale today, also says that Jordan, who was one of only two black players on the baseball team, was called inferior. Small wonder that, as former Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause told Lazenby, Jordan “remembers everyone who ever didn’t think he was going to be great. He remembers every negative story that’s ever been written about him.”