Craig Hodges Rumors
Hodges did not mind that his letter was leaked to the media in 1991. But it made him a marked man. He remained with the Bulls and, the following year, emulated Larry Bird by becoming the only other player in NBA history to win three successive three-point contests at the all-star weekend – showcasing his skill in sinking long-range shots. Hodges won $20,000, and asked his fellow Bulls to join him in each pooling a similar amount from their vast earnings to help local communities. His team-mates avoided the invitation, saying they would need to clear it with their agents. Hodges was disappointed, because “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.”
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.”
But Hodges believes the outpouring of support for Kaepernick, especially on social media, “has to be heartening for him. He must know that, ‘Hey man, I’m doing the right thing.’” Hodges, in contrast, received no support. “None at all. Today, on social media, people can vibe with you even if they can’t do anything about your opportunity to play. So I feel good he knows people support him. Now, if the NFL doesn’t stump up and he doesn’t get an opportunity, fans who are supportive of Colin should show their displeasure and stage a boycott. Don’t buy jerseys or don’t go to the game to show appreciation for his stance.”
It should also be pointed out that Jordan chose to snub President Bush’s invitation when the Bulls visited him in 1991. “I’m not going to the White House,” Hodges remembers Jordan saying. “Fuck Bush. I didn’t vote for him.”
Phil Jackson was the only man in the Chicago locker room to share Hodges’ unhappiness at America’s bombing of Iraq in 1991. “We get stuck in one idea of patriotism,” Hodges says, “and if I don’t march to the beat of that soundbite I’m unpatriotic. Me and Phil were different. When the Gulf war broke out in 1991, on Dr King Day, actually, everybody said: ‘We need to bomb the shit out of them.’ Phil let them finish and he said: ‘If we do that, then remember that’s going to leave an orphan who will feel the pain as he grows up with the idea of revenge. Don’t be too quick to cheer – because retaliation is in his hands now.”
Craig Hodges: I followed my conscience and observed the obligation I felt toward my forebears and my community each of my 10 years in the league. I knew there would be consequences; I understood the price Black leadership paid in America, but somehow I thought that in a league comprising 75 percent Black players, I would get away with it. I was wrong. Now it was time to pay the price. It was the agents who shut me out of the league first.