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Rioting spread across LA for six days and Hodges followed the televised news – noticing how often, amid play-off fever, a “Be Like Mike” commercial in homage to Jordan was repeated. After game two of the 1992 championship final against Portland, Authentic Bryce Harper Youth Jersey Hodges was asked about the NBA’s lack of black owners. He spoke out against racism in the NBA, and across America, and criticised Jordan for failing to address the judicial injustice towards King. The New York Times ran the story; and Hodges’ career was effectively over. Twenty-five days after Chicago became champions again, Hodges was told he would not be offered a new deal. He had just turned 32 – but Hodges had been part of successive title-winning campaigns and remained king of the three-pointers. Hodges’ knowledge of the game and enduring shooting skills could not compensate for his political conviction. His belief that Jordan and his agent Dave Falk were, in tandem with others, “going to run me out of the league” came true. Not one NBA team would offer a contract to a free agent of huge experience. His precarious situation deteriorated when his own agent, Bob Woolf, said he could no longer represent him. Hodges could not even find a new agent. “No one would return my calls,” he remembers. While he waited forlornly for an offer from the NBA, which never came, Hodges played in Italy. Unlike when Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith made powerful gestures of political defiance in the civil rights-enflamed 1960s, Hodges was an outcast. “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.” In his foreword to Hodges’ book, the sportswriter Dave Zirin recalls that, when he started covering the NBA in 2003, he asked players why they did not speak out politically. The stock answer, fed to the players by their agents, was stark: “You don’t want to be like Craig Hodges.” That troubling quote is echoed by Kaepernick’s failure to win a new contract now he is no longer a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Hodges is sympathetic. Brad Wing Youth Jersey “The cruel part about it, man, is he’s speaking on behalf of people who can’t speak for themselves. Now he’s spoken, it seems his platform has been removed. It’s like [the NFL] are saying: ‘We’re going to take him away because we don’t want his views to catch fire. We don’t want him in a locker room spreading this truth. “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.”

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