Let me say first that you are among the basketball greats. I remember rooting for you in the ’93 Championship Series against the Bulls along with one of my hometown heroes Richard Dumas. You have achieved a level of success on the court that will be cemented in the basketball history books permanently. Eleven NBA All-Star Game appearances, twice All-Star MVP, once voted NBA MVP, one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Dream Team, two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. You are basketball royalty.
Your book Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man? is sitting on my bookshelf right now. It’s a powerful book that takes on the issue of race and racism in a way that many would’ve shied away from.
“Racism,” you said, “is the biggest cancer of my lifetime. And I know I can’t cure the cancer, but doesn’t somebody have to attack it?”
In Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man? you compiled a very impressive list of fascinating opinions and personal stories from then-Senator Obama, Michael Wilbon, Tiger Woods, Morgan Freeman and many other famous personalities on their ideas about race and other issues in America. Your words were to the point, with little of your trademark humor. It’s clear that the audience you most hoped to reach with this book were young black men and women, and I commend you for using your celebrity status and influence to positively effect black youth.
You have never been afraid to speak your mind and I commend you for that. But with that comes great responsibility.
During an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, the day after the Ferguson decision was announced, host Mike Missanelli asked you to express your thoughts about it and why “black America” didn’t trust the ruling. Your response was quite surprising to me. You said: “The true story came out from the grand jury testimony.” You explained that you were made aware of “key forensic evidence, and several black witnesses that supported Officer Darren Wilson’s story…”
You went on to say:
[W]e have to be really careful with the cops, because if it wasn’t for the cops we would be living in the Wild, Wild West in our neighborhoods…we can’t pick out certain incidentals that don’t go our way and act like the cops are all bad…. Do you know how bad some of these neighborhoods would be if it wasn’t for the cops?