By SUE DOUGHNEM
Basketball superstar Michael Jordan, who recently announced that he will return for a second season with the Washington Wizards, has decided to display solidarity with a variety of causes by wearing a black armband during games.
After discussing his new season with the Wizards at a press conference, Jordan was asked about the significance of the black armband he had been spotted wearing.
“It’s in the tradition of silent but visible protest,” Jordan said, “like the Tinker kids, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos.” Jordan was referring to the famous Tinker v. Des Moines free-speech case in which two high school students won the right to wear black armbands in school as a protest against the Vietnam war, as well as the two Black U.S. athletes who gave the Black Power salute during the 1968 Olympics.
When pressed by reporters to explain what the armband represented, Jordan continued: “Well, a variety of things, actually. Number one, I’d like to express some solidarity with the people protesting against the IMF and World Bank. I mean, read the stories in the paper-they all talk about what the protesters are doing, and not why they’re protesting. So I thought I could draw some attention to that.”
Jordan went on to say that he supported the Palestinian struggle and was firmly against what he called “U.S. imperialist antics” in the Middle East.” What are we doing there? Come on, y’all. Oil. Oil, and old scores to settle. That’s it!” Jordan said.
However, it was Jordan’s scathing words for his employer, Nike, which were most surprising. His voice rose and he counted his reasons on his fingers as he spoke.
“You know, most of all, I feel bad for dealing with Nike, for so many reasons. It bothers me that they are still using child labor. It bothers me that they have inundated the Third World with billboards advertising their high-priced shoes made for pennies by little kids. And I’m talking about the Third World in the U.S., in the inner city, as well as in Asia and South America, you know?”
Jordan also said that he felt some responsibility for speaking out since he had been employed as a Nike spokesperson for so long.When asked what would happen with his current Nike contract as well as his millions of dollars in assets from Nike endorsements, Jordan paused and rubbed his head before replying.
“I’m not sure yet. I’ve been thinking about setting up a foundation or fund that would grant this money to nonprofits and other grassroots groups fighting hard on these issues. Something’s gotta be done with all this money, that’s for sure. I want to support the worldwide resistance.” …
Myrna Shinbaum, public relations director for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, said that Jordan was “obviously anti-Semitic” and vowed that any celebrity who came out in support of the Palestinian cause would be “utterly closed off from public life forever.”
Jordan later said that he was sorry for upsetting people, but that he felt obligated to “finally follow my conscience instead of the almighty dollar.”He strongly urged all other Americans to do the same.
Excerpted from “Compañero,” firstname.lastname@example.org. R.T. Mark Press Services and Thermic Inc. contributed to this story.