Last night, somewhere in America, Former Chicago Bull Craig Hodges was smiling.
Hodges never minced words when it came to discussing the state of African-Americans—especially in the NBA.
When the Bulls visited the White House after winning their first championship back in 1991, Hodges wore a dashiki while handing a letter to one of President Bush’s aides. Hodges criticized the NBA for the lack of African-American head coaches. At the time, the league only had two. He went on to suggest that the players should boycott a playoff game.
He was cut by the Bulls after the 1992 NBA Finals. Despite being one of the NBA’s best three point shooters in league history, he never played again.
These days, professional athletes are often chided for not taking a stand on polarizing issues like some of their predecessors did. And those who do are often ostracized.
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, one of the NBA’s most popular—and inexplicably polarizing—players, took a stand Saturday night.
In the pregame warm ups ahead of their game vs. the Golden State Warriors, Rose wore a black t-shirt that read, “I can’t breathe.” Those were the last words of Eric Garner, a New York City man who died at the hands of a NYPD officer.
The reaction on social media was immediate—and polarized.
I respect Derrick Rose because he’s no hypocrite. Spoke out passionately this summer about crime in Chicago. That’s way beyond police issue.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) December 8, 2014
I’ve wanted to see this generation of athletes–who have often stood for nothing–stand for something. Now they are. That’s a great thing.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) December 7, 2014
I’m tired of the double standard for black folks. We can be good for sports but not support our own? How does that sound?
— Stephen Bardo (@stephenbardo) December 7, 2014