When former Charlotte NC mayor Harvey Gantt ran (twice) against Jesse Helms, he sought the endorsment of former UNC star Michael Jordan. Jordan’s reply at the time: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”
An endorsement from Jordan could have helped the popular black mayor unseat one of the senate’s most bigoted members, but Mike sat on the sidelines. Apparantly, Helms’ death prompted Jordan to expound on meeting the racist codger, and to finally endorse Gantt:
“A number of years back, I was in Raleigh at some function and I was introduced to the Senator. ‘Hello Senator Helms, nice to meet you,’ I say, offering my hand. He looks up at me, sizes up my hand, and smiles like he’s addressing the help back at the plantation: ‘Nice to meet you too, Fred.’ I’m like, Fred, huh? No, it’s Michael, Michael Jordan, the basketball player. He just goes, ‘Nice to meet you Fred.’ That’s one crazy mother (muffled).”
Someone later told Jordan that Helms had a “humorous habit” of calling all black people “Fred.”
“Yeah, humorous. Hilarious. It was then that I realized I made a mistake, I should have come out to support the brother. Let him know, if he runs again, give my office a call, we’ll hit the campaign up with all the Air Jordans and Jordan brand apparel they need. On the house. It would be my honor to be the official sponsor – along with Gatorade and Hanes — of Harvey Gantt’s next campaign.”
Let’s first note that calling Michael Jordan – one of the most universally respected people on the planet – “Fred” is just plain disgusting. Let’s also note that Gantt declined the endorsement, citing Jordan’s poor management of the Charlotte Bobcats.