Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan added his voice Sunday night to those supporting professional athletes expressing themselves on social issues.
"I want to get one thing clear, and I want to let you guys know that this wasn't about disrespecting the military, disrespecting the flag, police, first responders, none of that," Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers said of his decision to stay off the field until after the national anthem on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Jourdan Rodriguejrodrigue@charlotteobserver.com
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In response to an Observer question about President Donald Trump rescinding an invitation to the White House for the Golden State Warriors, Jordan provided the following statement:
“One of the fundamental rights this country is founded on was freedom of speech, and we have a long tradition of nonviolent, peaceful protest. Those who exercise the right to peacefully express themselves should not be demonized or ostracized.
“At a time of increasing divisiveness and hate in this country, we should be looking for ways to work together and support each other and not create more division.
“I support Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA, its players and all those who wish to exercise their right to free speech.”
Sports and politics hit a collision course of sorts this weekend. First, Trump advocated during a public appearance that NFL owners fire players who don’t stand for the national anthem. That drew strong response from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and numerous players showed unity during Sunday’s national anthems with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who silently protested what he views as racial inequality by taking a knee during national anthems last season.
During President Donald Trump's speech at a rally in Huntsville, Ala. on Sept. 22, 2017, he said any player that sits during the national anthem is a "son of a bitch." The president also rescinded NBA champ Stephen Curry's invitation to the White Alexa Ard / McClatchy
Then, after former Davidson star Stephen Curry said he’d vote against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors visiting the White House, over Trump’s actions and policies, Trump went on Twitter to say he had rescinded his invitation, which is traditional for championship teams in major sports.
“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump tweeted.
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The Warriors responded with a statement that, in lieu of a White House visit, the team will “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion” during a February trip to Washington, D.C., to play the Wizards.
Jordan has been vocal recently regarding some social issues. He commented on civil unrest in Charlotte after police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott a year ago. He also commented on the North Carolina law known as House Bill 2, which was viewed by some as discriminatory toward the LGBT community. That law has since been repealed.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell