Civil Rights Activist Slams Michael Jordan Over Announcer's Firing

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A civil rights activist took a highly critical stance toward the Charlotte Hornets organization and their decision to dismiss play-by-play announcer John Focke who published a tweet with the n-word, which he deleted and said was an unfortunate autocorrect.

Alvertis Simmons, the president of Simmons Foundation for Youth and Change, took aim at Hornets owner Michael Jordan's handling of the incident while sitting down with Darren McKee on 104.3 the fan (KKFN) in Denver, Colo. last Thursday. An appearance by Simmons was brokered by the station to smooth over racial tensions created by McKee, who tweeted the same thing as Focke during an NBA playoff game on Aug 23.

In the span of the 18-minute radio interview, Simmons went after Jordan saying, "I know in Charlotte, the announcer there for the Charlotte Hornets, he tweeted the same thing you did, DMac. And Michael Jordan fired him. Well... you know... Michael Jordan is a billionaire...I'm a dollaraire."

Simmons defended McKee and KKFN's decision to keep the radio host on the air amidst the overwhelming controversy, referring to the incident as a "teaching moment."

The activist and community organizer took that comment a step further by saying, "Michael Jordan fired that guy in North Carolina...Charlotte...but let me just say this, I believe here in Denver that we do things differently. I do. I believe we do things differently."

He later admitted the station agreed to give financial compensation to his foundation and others entities in Denver's African-American community as part of a partnership agreement in-exchange for DMac keeping his job.

"I feel Simmons was brought in as a PR stunt to help suppress the narrative of ongoing prejudice viewpoints," an anonymous source told WBT on Monday.

Jordan announced he would donate $100 million to social justice causes over the next decade.

"Jordan Brand is more than one man. It has always been a family," he said in a statement released in June. "We represent a proud family that has overcome obstacles, fought against discrimination in communities worldwide and that works every day to erase the stain of racism and the damage of injustice."

Like Focke, McKee said the slur was tweeted out in place of 'Nuggets', and was deleted shortly after being sent out.

Despite McKee issuing an apology via Twitter saying he was "sickened" by what happened— a series of previous racist tweets from the radio host was published by Deadspin on Aug. 28.

Simmons' bashing of Jordan came just days before fellow 104.3 the fan host and former NFL player Brandon Stokley encouraged fans to boo NFL players during a moment of unity against racism.

When Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that he "didn’t see racism and discrimination in the NFL" during a Zoom press conference in June, Simmons was brought in by the organization to help race relations. He took a photo opportunity with Fangio and later told reporters, "I don't think coach has a racist bone in his body." Simmons said in the full interview with KKFN that the Broncos organization was linked to his foundation as well.

Jordan was recently praised for his role in bringing the NBA players back to the court last month. The basketball legend took on the concerns of the players after games were canceled due to outgoing unrest in the country.

"Michael has a very strong voice and a unique voice amongst our NBA owners," Hornets' Vice Chairman and President Fred Whitfield told WBT's Bo Thompson on Sept. 2.

Outside of his work with the Hornets, Jordan has an enhanced role with the NBA.

"I just applaud commissioner Adam Silver for really embracing Michael and giving him a leadership role within the ownership group and having him so involved in the competition committee, as well as labor relations," Whitfield said. "Michael used his loud voice and it was heard and it was appreciated by both the players and the owners."

That same voice was instrumental in keeping the NBA season going by laying plans for the Disney Bubble. Silver told the Detroit Free Press how Jordan was in command over the entire project. 

"(Jordan's) clearly the most respected voice in the room when it comes to basketball," Silver said. "He felt that it was very important that after we established the 16 teams we not be gimmicky. Because there were a lot of proposals on the table to do unique tournaments and pool play like you see in international competitions - and we took many of those proposals very seriously.

"But I think ultimately, and I agreed with Michael, that there's so much chaos in the world right now - I mean, even before the racial unrest that we're experiencing now - that let's come as close to normal as we can and as close to normal as we can is the top eight in the West and the eight in the East playing four rounds of seven games so that's what we intend to do and our goal is to crown a champion."

Jordan, a Hall of Famer, six-time NBA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, is the only African-American majority owner in sports.

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