Craig Hodges Applauds Colin Kaepernick
Former Chicago Bulls star Craig Hodges says his generation did not do enough to battle racial injustice in the United States.
Craig Hodges is the Colin Kaepernick of his time as he was shut out of the NBA for being outspoken.
The two-time champion couldn’t find another team, or even another agent after criticising racism in the NBA. During his time speaking out as a player, he sought support from Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Neither would take the risk and join him.
In a possible jibe at Jordan, Barack Obama recently said black athletes were, at the time, too concerned with commerciality.
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“Our generation dropped the ball as a lot of us were more concerned with our own economic gain. We were at that point where branding was just beginning and we got caught up in individual branding rather than a unified movement,” Craig Hodges said.
“I envisioned the Chicago Bulls making history in the most meaningful way. We also had a basketball player [Jordan] whose popularity exceeded that of the pope. If the Bulls spoke in a collective voice during the golden age of professional basketball, the world would listen.”
It’s a far cry from today, where black NBA players are changing the conversation and using their platforms for change.
“It was a different climate. A brother facing oppression in the 1960s felt it the same, whether he was a bus driver or Ali. Look what the brothers did in Mexico City [when Carlos and Smith raised their fists in black power salutes during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner on the Olympic podium in 1968]. They faced unemployment and disenfranchisement.
“I had that too but, in my era, not many people stood up. The climate was very conservative – and it got worse because athletes were afraid to speak because of the ramifications I faced.”
Hodges’ modern counterpart Colin Kaepernick has yet to find another NFL team after instigating the Take a Knee movement.
“I applaud Colin. I’m trying to reach out to the brother so I can let him know personally: ‘I respect you. If there’s anything I can do please don’t hesitate to call me. I’ve got your back.’ I know he loves to play the game. So not getting a contract is hurtful to his essence. The fact he’s not even getting offers right now is depressing for me, for him. I know these feelings.”