But, first, lest you wonder what happened to the guy who played with a legendary chip on his shoulder and even listed decades-old slights in a speech when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, know that he can still throw an elbow.
Melvin got at that side when he inquired about Jordan’s old statement that he would choose Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and James Worthy to play with him in a pickup game. Jordan took the bait, saying he stood by it “in a heartbeat” and adding trolling to his repertoire of talents.
“I’m going in the trenches. I played against and with all these guys. I’m going with who I know,” he explained. “Every single night, their responsibility to go out there and represent greatness, every single night.”
Notice he didn’t mention LeBron James. And, as Melvin said, “Steph Curry shouldn’t be offended when he watches this?”
“I hope not. He’s still a great player,” Jordan said kindly, before delivering a shot with a killer smile. “Not a Hall of Famer yet, though. He’s not. He’s not.”
Jordan took Melvin for a tour of a pet project, one of two Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinics he has funded in Charlotte, where he is the majority owner of the Hornets. “The Michael Jordan aspect of things, okay, it is what it is,” he said. “What drives me is that I know this clinic is needed within the community and it’s going to provide a certain service.”
Jordan was famously apolitical during his playing days and he has spoken out more and more, saying “I can no longer stay silent” three years ago after a barrage of shootings of unarmed young black men.
“When I was playing, my vision and my tunnel vision was my craft. I was a professional basketball player and I tried to do that the best I could,” he explained to Melvin. “Now I have more time to understand things around me, understand causes, understand issues and problems and commit my voice, my financial support, too.”
Not that he’d like a do-over from his playing days. “I never look back and change things, for whatever reason.”
Now, if players want to speak out about social and political issues as James and Curry have done, Jordan is all for that, as a citizen and an owner of an NBA team. “I think it’s great if they understand the causes. If they think their voice matters, great. I support that.”
Jordan declined to discuss the NBA’s recent issues with China, citing his problems in that country over ownership of his name. He did side with college players in light of California’s Pay for Play initiative that would result in athletes to be paid for colleges’ use of their names, images and likenesses. “I think they should be paid some portion of money so that their basic needs are taken care of,” he said. “There is some complexity there that I think the NCAA is going to have to figure out.”
Jordan made headlines recently for creating a brand of tequila in partnership with NBA owners Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, Wes Edens of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Emilia Fazzalari and Wyc Grousbeck of the Boston Celtics.
“If we sell it, we sell it,” he said of the Cinocro brand. “If not, we’ve still got enough to drink.”
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