If you’re like many Americans, you were glued to your television set Sunday night to see the next two episodes of The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary series which follows Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls on the road to their final championship.

In last night’s episode, Michael Jordan gets his famous Nike Air Jordans – which far exceeds anyone’s expectations in terms of sales and creates a new trend that lasts to this day.

But the episode also covered the controversy that resulted when the basketball superstar was asked to endorse the Democrat in the 1990 U.S. Senate race in North Carolina between Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt.  Most people assumed he would.

After all, Jordan grew up in North Carolina and starred for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.  Gantt was an African-American former Democratic mayor of Charlotte running against Republican Jesse Helms (who opposed making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday).  However, Jordan did not make a big endorsement, even after Jordan’s mother asked him to appear in an ad for Gantt. 

“Republicans buy shoes, too,” Jordan explained, causing many Americans to assume that Jordan was more focused on his bottom line than his values.  Gantt lost the racially-charged election.

In last night’s episode, Jordan’s old, off-handed comment was discussed by none other than Barack Obama, who expressed sadness over hearing of Jordan’s comment at the time.  Jordan explained that he made the comment off-handedly, but he doesn’t feel a need to apologize for it.  He said he was focused on basketball.  He didn’t want to endorse, but he did write Gantt a check. 

“Was that selfish? Probably,” he said on The Last Dance. “But that’s where my energy was.”

I, for one, think people need to lay off Jordan for his decision.  In fact, I admire it.  A great basketball player doesn’t have to get involved in politics just because others want him to get involved.  In a time when players are “taking a knee” and sending out politically-motivated tweets around the clock, Jordan’s stay-in-your-lane philosophy is refreshing. 

Uniting, even.

After all, Republicans watch basketball too.  We don’t have to shove politics into every single aspect of American life, and I applaud Jordan for his decision to be true to his life’s calling.

It seems to have worked out for him.

Image Credit: mccarmona23 on Flickr

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.