NBA Legend and former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan announced on Tuesday he will donate $1 million to relief efforts in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, CBS News reported.
“I am devastated to see the destruction that Hurricane Dorian has brought to the Bahamas, where I own property and visit frequently,” Jordan said in a statement, shared on Twitter by his spokeswoman and manager, Estee Portnoy. “My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and those who have lost loved ones.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: For some time now, we here at GBN have struggled with the fact that while our operating directive is always to present positive stories, there are so many issues that affect our communities that don’t fit that philosophy, but would love to find a way to present that doesn’t stray from our core mission. It recently dawned on us that the steps we as individuals and societies take to solve problems, large or small, could perhaps be our way in. Solutions can only come first through awareness and acknowledgement of the issue, learning about it, discussing it, then figuring out ways to act that may help solve it.
In that spirit, we introduce “Let’s Talk About It” – a new GBN feature we will occasionally present about problems that need ideas for solutions. Our first entry is a share from, appropriately enough, The Conversation, a website GBN has partnered with to bring to you exactly this type of content.
First up: How can we as a community begin to solve the black student debt crisis? Should we follow the lead of billionaire Robert F. Smith, who single-handedly relieved the debt of Morehouse College’s graduating class of 2019, and task the wealthiest among us to pitch in and help out? Or are there other ways for us to alleviate this issue? Read below, and if you’d like, let’s discuss!
-Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Founder and Editor-in-Chief
by Mako Fitts Ward, professor at Arizona State University
When billionaire Robert F. Smith decided to pay off the student loans of the graduating class of 2019 at Morehouse College, he suggested that others follow his lead.
“Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward, because we are enough to take care of our own community,” Smith declared in his commencement speech.
But is there even enough black private wealth in the United States to pay off all black student loan debt?
As a scholar in social transformation and African American studies, I’m intrigued by this question. It provides an opportunity to examine black wealth, higher education and the possibilities for alleviating debt, which in turn opens the door to new economic opportunities.
That’s a lot of money, and he’s done it before. Before his gift to Morehouse, Smith donated $50 million to Cornell University, his alma mater, in part to support African American and female students at Cornell University’s College of Engineering.
Other black celebrities have also stepped up to fund education. Powerhouse couple Beyonce and Jay Z gave more than $1 million in scholarships to students who lived in cities they were touring in 2018.
Rapper Nicki Minaj gave 37 “Student of the Game” scholarships. LeBron James, through his foundation, promised to pay for 2,300 students to attend the University of Akron – at an estimated price tag of $100 million. Oprah Winfrey has donated more than $400 million to educational causes.
Michael Jordan is donating $7 million to build two medical facilities to serve at-risk and underserved communities in Charlotte. The Hornets owner’s donation will fund the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinics, expected to open late 2020.
The facilities will provide affordable access to primary and preventive care ― including behavioral health, physical therapy, social work, oral health and family planning ― to those with little-to-no health care. “Through my years of working with Novant Health, I have been impressed with their approach and their commitment to the community,” Jordan, who was raised in Wilmington and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, said in a press release. “It is my hope that these clinics will help provide a brighter and healthier future for the children and families they serve.”
Estee Portnoy, a spokeswoman for Jordan, told the Charlotte Observer that he was largely motivated to contribute after a 2014 study found that compared to other big cities in the country, Charlotte’s poor children have the worst chance of making it out of poverty. Over five years, the two clinics are projected to serve nearly 35,000 underserved children and adults, according to the press release.
“This gift will transform the lives of thousands of families and children living in poverty-stricken communities,” Carl Armato, president and CEO of Novant Health, told the Associated Press. “We are thankful to Michael for his generosity. The gift will remove barriers to high-quality health care in some of the most vulnerable communities.”
ESPN reports that this is the former NBA star’s largest philanthropic gift ever. In 2016, Jordan gave $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture; he also pledged $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Institute for Community-Police Relationsto help “build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement.”
Now all Mr. Bunch and a team of colleagues had to do was find an unprecedented number of private donors willing to finance a public museum. They had to secure hundreds of millions of additional dollars from a Congress, Republican controlled, that had long fought the project.
And they had to counter efforts to locate the museum not at the center of Washington’s cultural landscape on the National Mall, but several blocks offstage. “I knew it was going to be hard, but not how hard it was going to be,” Mr. Bunch, 63, said in an interview last month.
In less than three weeks, though, with President Obama presiding, the new museum, a project that once thirsted for money, land and political support, is scheduled to open on the Mall.
Visitors to the $540 million building, designed to resemble a three-tiered crown, will encounter the sweeping history of black America from the Middle Passage of slavery to the achievements and complexities of modern black life.
But also compelling is the story of how the museum itself came to be through a combination of negotiation, diplomacy, persistence and cunning political instincts. The strategy included an approach that framed the museum as an institution for all Americans, one that depicted the black experience, as Mr. Bunch often puts it, as “the quintessential American story” of measured progress and remarkable achievement after an ugly period of painful oppression.
The tactics included the appointment of Republicans like Laura Bush and Colin L. Powell to the museum’s board to broaden bipartisan support beyond Democratic constituencies, and there were critical efforts to shape the thinking of essential political leaders.
Long before its building was complete, for example, the museum staged exhibitions off-site, some on the fraught topics it would confront, such as Thomas Jefferson’s deep involvement with slavery. A Virginia delegation of congressional members was brought through for an early tour of the Jefferson exhibition, which featured a statue of him in front of a semicircular wall marked with 612 names of people he had owned. “I remember being very impacted,” said Eric Cantor, then the House Republican leader, who was part of the delegation.
Mr. Bunch said that he hoped the Jefferson exhibition pre-empted criticism by establishing the museum’s bold but balanced approach to difficult material. “Some people were like, ‘How dare you equate Jefferson with slavery,’” he recalled. “But it means that people are going to say, ‘Of course, that is what they have to do.’”
According to reports, Jordan has donated $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. Officials revealed that the gift is the largest from a sports figure to the 19th Smithsonian museum and pushes private donations to $278 million. Including federal aid, the museum, which President Obama will open in September, has raised more than $548 million.
The NBA legend said in a statement, “I am grateful for the opportunity to support this museum. I also am indebted to the historic contributions of community leaders and athletes such as Jesse Owens, whose talent, commitment and perseverance broke racial barriers and laid the groundwork for the successful careers of so many African Americans in athletics and beyond.”
According to usatoday.com, former NBA great Michael Jordan has today not only spoken out against police violence towards people of color and the retaliatory violence that has ensued, but in an effort to help ease tensions, he has also put his money where his mouth is, donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly-established Institute for Community-Police Relations.
In a statement shared via The Undefeated on Monday morning, Jordan said the following:
“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.
“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.
“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.
“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.
“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”
Since hanging up his signature sneakers, basketball legend Michael Jordan has been focusing his attention on conquering the business world. And it’s worked.
Back in 2015, the NBA Hall of Famer joined the billionaires club, thanks to his investment in the Charlotte Hornets. Today, Jordan owns approximately 90 percent of the franchise, and his lucrative deals with Nike, Hanes, and Gatorade continue to pay hefty dividends years after he retired from the league.
Monday, Jordan announced he—along with corporate donors like Bank of America and Lowe’s—are investing $500,000 into the community that supports his team.
“When I took over majority control of the team, one of the biggest impacts I wanted…was to reconnect back to the community,” Jordan said on Monday during the team’s annual day of community service. “I felt (that connection) was lost a little bit with the previous ownership, and I felt it was very important.”
Jordan continued: “Six years later, here we are…I am very proud of the commitment of the organization to the community. My dedication, my drive, is to continue to connect with this community.”
Since taking over as majority owner of the Hornets from BET founder Robert Johnson, Jordan and the team have invested more than $3 million into the community. In 2010, he donated $250,000 to save Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ middle school sports programs, and now he’s turning his attention to literacy.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the $500,000 investment will include funding for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Foundation, Freedom School Partners, Child Care Resources Inc., and CrossRoads Corp. Jordan and the team also plan to help build 18 libraries around the city and donate thousands of books.
“Fast and Furious” franchise director Justin Lin is in talks to direct “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James, for Warner Bros. The original starred Michael Jordan, who teamed up with the Looney Tunes cast to battle a group of aliens in an epic basketball game. Lin and Andrew Dodge are writing the script for the film.
Rumors of a “Space Jam” sequel sparked last summer after James and his company SpringHill Entertainment signed a deal with Warner Bros. James has been compared to Jordan since the NBA all-star entered the league in 2003. Following Jordan’s footsteps on the big screen makes sense for James, as well as the studio, which is constantly looking for material with established brand value.
James made his acting debut in the Judd Apatow comedy “Trainwreck,” where he played himself. He received strong reviews, especially for his comedic timing opposite seasoned vets like Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.
The value makes MJ the 1,577th richest person in the world and 486th richest in the United States. That’s up nearly 200 spots from the 1,741st worldwide ranking that Jordan had on last year’s list, which marked his debut on Forbes‘ World’s Billionaires list in 2015. What makes his place all the more special is Jordan is the lone current or former athlete on the prestigious list.
Jordan’s 90 percent ownership share of the Charlotte Hornets accounts for about $500 million of his assets, while his Air Jordan line with Nike continues to thrive in the sneaker market with 32 years in the game.
Carmelo Anthony, whose sneakers are designed by the Jordan Brand, couldn’t be prouder of his mentor.
“It makes me proud. Yeah, it does,” Melo told ESPN. “I remember getting there and seeing where the business was then. I remember sitting in the airport in 2006, coming from the world championship, and I remember when the brand had just hit a billion, and to see where it’s at right now — [nearly $3 billion in sales] — that’s a lot. That’s a lot of growth to be a part of.”
OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry‘s greatness as a basketball player can be measured by his record-setting shooting numbers that are changing the game. His immense popularity derives from something less tangible.
While many NBA greats rely on uncommon height and athletic ability that average fans can only dream of having, Curry’s game relies on the skills that every casual player can work on: shooting, dribbling and passing.
The difference is, perhaps nobody ever has put those three skills together the same way Curry has in the past year, as he has dominated on the court and made the once-downtrodden Golden State Warriors the NBA’s must-watch team.
“The way that I play has a lot of skill but is stuff that if you go to the YMCA or rec leagues or church leagues around the country, everybody wants to shoot, everybody wants to handle the ball, make creative passes and stuff like that,” he said. “You can work on that stuff. Not everybody has the vertical or the physical gifts to be able to go out and do a windmill dunk and stuff like that. I can’t even do it.”
That’s about all Curry is unable to do on the basketball court. His amazing year, in which he won an MVP, led Golden State to its first title in 40 years and helped the Warriors get off to a record-setting start this season earned him The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.
Curry finished first in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors, with the results released Saturday. He joined LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as the only basketball players to win the honor in the 85 years of the award. Curry beat out golfer Jordan Spieth, who won two majors, and American Pharoah, who became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.
While American Pharoah got three more first-place votes than Curry’s 24, Curry appeared on 86 percent of the 82 ballots that ranked the top five candidates. More than one-third of the voters left American Pharoah off their list.
“That’s a real honor,” Curry said. “I’m appreciative of that acknowledgement because it’s across all different sports. … It’s pretty cool.”