By Ed Odeven
TOKYO (July 27, 2016) – Michael Jordan’s announcement on Monday that he is donating $1 million apiece to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Institute for Community-Police Relations is an important contribution in the aftermath of recent shooting deaths in the United States.
Larry King tweeted, “I would like to congratulate Michael Jordan for making a bold and important statement today.”
And it reminded me of something I witnessed in October 1999 in Birmingham, Alabama, when I worked as a sports reporter for The Birmingham News.
At halftime of the NBA preseason game between Charles Barkley’s Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons at the Birmingham Civic Center, not far from Barkley’s hometown of Leeds, the perennial All-Star forward announced he was giving $1 million apiece to Leeds High School (from which he graduated), Auburn University (where he rose to fame as a college hoops star) and Cornerstone Schools, which serves Birmingham’s inner-city community.
On that night, Barkley walked onto the court at halftime to tell his most loyal fans, those who had seen him play since his schoolboy days, that he would retire after the season. (He had entered the NBA in 1984, the same years as Jordan, with the Philadelphia 76ers.)
Barkley walked onto the court, escorting both his mother and grandmother. Bernard Kincaid, the then-mayor of Birmingham, was also there.
It was inspiring to see somebody using their fame and fortune to help the common good.