For everyone that like's Mike.


Mike Like's Obama, kinda...

It's been 18 years since Michael Jordan uttered the infamous quote that was still being trotted out against him right up until this week's presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain. The 1990 remark consisted of just four little words -
"Republicans buy shoes, too," Jordan said - but it left the Chicago Bulls star propped up then and now as the notorious poster boy for the millionaire modern athlete who stands for nothing.

So what a surprise it was Monday on the eve of Election Day to be scrolling through an online list of federal campaign contributions and finding three entries in the past four years beside the name: "Jordan, Michael, Mr." The columns beside Jordan's name show he's given a total of $14,400 to Obama's 2008 presidential and 2004 U.S. Senate campaigns.

Michael Jordan?

Shouldn't this have been some sort of headline by now? Jordan finally took a stand? Jordan isn't just a moneymaking machine, after all? Of all the stories about athletes and sports executives who have gotten personally involved in the presidential race, the discovery of a famous last holdout like Jordan getting personally involved feels like underreported news. Not because anyone should necessarily depend on athletes' examples to tell them how to vote. But because there's no denying that sports stars like Jordan have influence. And the sight of someone as notoriously reticent as Jordan suddenly participating in the political process, even in an entry-level way, can make other people pay attention or start exercising their citizenship, too.

Without going overboard, there's also this: Don't we kind of, maybe owe Jordan at least a tiny apology for the thumping he's taken for supposedly not having any social conscience? Wouldn't it now seem he's made at least some small personal migration since 1990? Who cares if it was even just peer pressure? In the weeks leading up to this weeks vote, Jordan's old pal Charles Barkley had talked publicly about switching allegiances from the Republican ticket to supporting Obama, and another old friend, Patrick Ewing, the retired Knicks great and current Orlando Magic assistant, teamed with Alonzo Mourning to appear at get-out-the-vote rallies for Obama in Florida in recent weeks.

Cleveland star LeBron James, who aspires to Jordanesque riches and fame, went farther than Jordan ever has by appearing at a rally for Obama in Cleveland two weeks ago with the rap star Jay-Z.

Current Knicks Stephon Marbury and Chris Duhon gave money to the Obama campaign, too, and Troy Aikman, Curt Schilling, Jack Nicklaus and Jets place-kicker Jay Feely were among the many athletes who came out in support of McCain.

(The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and Mets' Carlos Beltran, both Bush contributors in 2004, don't show up on the lists for either presidential campaign this year.)

Dozens and dozens of other athletes and sports executives got personally involved in the presidential race, too. For the Jets' Feely, a Republican who harbors ambitions of perhaps running for office someday, it's been heartening to see the stereotype that modern athletes have abandoned activism challenged this vigorously.

"I think there's definitely been more involvement in this year's election, more so than any other year, and it's led to an interesting dynamic in the locker room," Feely said in a phone interview yesterday. "The majority of NFL players are African-American, and what you have is a strong desire among many to vote for Barack Obama because they see it as a culmination of the civil rights movement 50 years ago, and the struggle against slavery that goes all the way back to the start of our country. But they're also conflicted because they know Obama is going to raise taxes on the [income] group they're in. So it's made for some interesting discussions on how to vote."

When Jordan made his "Republicans buy shoes, too" comment in 1990, he was trying to explain why he sat out the racially charged and razor-close race for the U.S. Senate in his home state of North Carolina between Democrat Harvey Gantt, the African- American mayor of Charlotte, and the archconservative incumbent, Jesse Helms, a Republican.

But six years later, Jordan quietly gave two donations totaling $2,000 to Gantt for his 1996 Senate race, which Gantt also lost. He financially contributed to presidential hopeful Bill Bradley once, as well as Obama's senate and presidential campaigns.

Again, you'd just never know it. A Nexis computer search yesterday for a firsthand explanation from Jordan turns up nothing. A request for comment from Jordan through his personal public relations representative and the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA team Jordan is currently involved with, produced only an e-mail reply from a Bobcats spokesman saying Jordan was not available for comment.

The only detail that turns up about Jordan's support for Obama at all is an August quote from Bobcats majority owner Bob Johnson, a big Obama contributor and fundraiser, who said of Jordan: "He's not as involved as I am. I'll call anybody and everybody [for support]."

For Jordan, it's a start.

Thank Johnette Howard of for the story.

No comments: