NBA legend Michael Jordan acted as a key liaison between players and owners during talks on whether the league should resume play following a brief boycott over the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, according to a report Thursday.
Jordan, who owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, contacted National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul and Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook to learn what the players hoped to achieve with their protest, ESPN reported, citing league sources. Later, Jordan participated in a virtual meeting with other team owners and urged them to listen to their players about how to move forward.
"Michael is the perfect person to be in this role," a league official told ESPN. "He's been a high-profile player who has won championships. He's also the owner of a small-market team. He has great credibility both with the players and the owners."
A six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan is the only Black majority owner of an NBA franchise. He also serves as chairman of the NBA’s Labor Relations Committee.
Jordan reportedly told his fellow NBA team owners that “listening is better than talking” in the current climate. Team owners expressed unanimous support for players who participated in the boycott.
Countless pro athletes spoke out this week after Blake, a Black man, was shot multiple times during an encounter with police in Kenosha, Wis. The shooting was caught on video and prompted several days of protests.
NBA players voted at a meeting Thursday to resume the playoffs. The decision came one day after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take the floor for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest the Blake shooting. The NBA postponed all games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday night.
"There is a video conference call meeting scheduled later this afternoon between a group of NBA players and team governors representing the 13 teams in Orlando, along with representatives from the National Basketball Players Association and the league office and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan, to discuss next steps," NBA executive vice president Mike Bass said in a statement Thursday.