Black Lives Matter: How Speaking Up Cost Craig Hodges His Career

Black Lives Matter: How Speaking Up Cost Craig Hodges His Career

Remember When The NBA Banned Craig Hodges?
1204
views

Every February, networks like ESPN and NBATV air flashbacks of the NBA's Three Point Contest from years past in preparation for the annual event. Renowned shooters like Peja Stojaković, Mark Price and Ray Allen's winning performances are often showcased, with three-time consecutive winner Larry Bird's monumental triumphs from 1985-88 getting the most attention. But there is another man, the only other to win three consecutive contests that often doesn't get the same adoration.

You will sometimes see clips of former Bulls sharpshooter Craig Hodges' epic 1991 contest championship, as he knocked down a standing record of 19 three-pointers, electrifying the crowd. Despite being tied with Bird for most wins, he technically can be considered the greatest three point contest ever, coupling his with a record-tying two second place finishes. To add to his individual accolades, Hodges was a member of the notorious 1991 and 1992 Chicago Bulls Championship squads, spearheaded by the legendary Michael Jordan. Of course this is unbeknownst to all aside from the avid basketball fan, due to Hodges decision to speak against not only the league and it's best player - but the entire country.


After four productive seasons at Long Beach State under Hall of Fame Coach Tex Winter, Hodges was selected in the third round of the 1982 NBA Draft by the San Diego Clippers. Despite limited minutes, Hodges produced decent numbers for the struggling franchise before moving on to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1984. Hodges was a tremendous help to the Playoff Contender, averaging double figures in scoring for a franchise that constantly managed to disappoint in the Eastern Conference Finals.

After a short stint with the Phoenix Suns, Hodges returned to his hometown of Illinois via a Suns trade with the Bulls in 1988. Adding a shooter to the promising Bulls was a must, a team that was struggling to get over the hump in the playoffs. Hodges was one of the league's best shooters, and his $350,000 price tag made him an affordable addition. Despite lackluster minutes, Hodges contributed off the bench, especially behind the arc, hitting a whopping 48 percent from behind the arc during the 1989-90 season. The Bulls were able to find the winning formula in 1991, defeating Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers to win the franchises first NBA Championship, and they defended their title in 1992, defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in 1992.

While most players would be riding high after winning not one but two consecutive championships, Hodges had a bigger plan, and his plan cost him. While many black athletes are criticized for not using their platform for good, Hodges took full advantage. Aside from the mandatory charitable acts that come with the contract clauses of being a professional athlete, Hodges went above and beyond for the black community, giving back to underprivileged youth and impoverished areas when the cameras weren't rolling. Meanwhile Hodges teammate Michael Jordan was facing scrutiny for remaining quiet on racial issues, not to mention the senseless murders over his Air Jordan sneakers.

The stories of Michael Jordan's bullying of players throughout his team in the NBA is well documented, from punching teammate Steve Kerr to Muggsy Bogues self-proclamation of Jordan ruining his career by taunting him. It's no secret that many players were fearful of Jordan or fearful of the power he possessed within the league. But that didn't stop Hodges from calling out Jordan as well as the NBA's other stars throughout his time in Chicago. Hodges addressed Jordan for his stance or lack thereof, on a range of topics, from black poverty to the lack of black coaches in the league, simply saying "You Are Bailing Out."

Hodges took his fight to another level when the Bulls visited former President George H.W. Bush at White House in 1992. It is expected for players to dress in their best attire to greet the President, awarding him with a special jersey commemorating the moment. But Hodges came adorning a dashiki, a cloth with West African roots symbolizing Hodges solidarity with people of color in Africa and the United States. Hodges handed the President a letter, with issues he deemed necessary to be addressed within the African-American communities of the U.S., as well as systematic and governmental concerns he had.

This didn't go over well, especially with the NBA, who immediately criticized Hodges for "embarrassing" the league and attacked his relationship with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Unfortunately for the 32-year-old Hodges, he was a free-agent, and according to him, pissing off the NBA and calling out Jordan resulted in him not being re-signed. The Bulls claimed the team was looking for a better defender, blaming Hodges lousy defense and age on their failure to bring him back.

Bulls Head Coach and Hodges' friend Phil Jackson spoke out on the matter in the summer of 1992, dismissing claims of foul play.

''I thought we improved ourselves there,'' said Phil Jackson, the Bulls' coach. ''I had the highest regard for Craig, though. He was a great team player, never caused any problems and I respected his views. I'm a spiritual man, and so is he. But I also found it strange that not a single team called to inquire about him. Usually, I get at least one call about a player we've decided not to sign. And yes, he couldn't play much defense, but a lot of guys in the league can't, but not many can shoot from his range, either.''

To add insult to injury, Hodges was not contacted by a single team and attempts by his agent as well as Hodges himself yielded no luck.

''I or my agent had called every team in the NBA and not one would even give me a tryout, let alone sign me," said Hodges.

There was initial interest by some franchises, which eventually subsided, as was the case with the Seattle SuperSonics. Billy McKinney, the then director of player personnel for the team, initially expressed interest, before backing out.

When confronted by Hodges, McKinney was quoted as saying ''brothers have families, if you know what I mean.''

The ever-controversial former NBA commissioner David Stern claimed that the alleged claims of Hodges being black-balled were "ridiculous".

''I was even at the White House when Craig wore the dashiki,'' he said. ''I thought it looked great, and I told him so.''

And just like that, Hodges career was over, forcing him to make a living overseas, bouncing around with clubs in Turkey, Italy and Sweden before hanging up his sneakers.

In 1996, Hodges filed a lawsuit against the NBA of $40,000,000, claiming he was blackballed by the then 29 teams over his actions and comments. After a brief stint as head coach at Chicago State University from 1994-96, Hodges disappeared from the public eye for nearly a decade.

As in the cases of many African-American freedom fighters in America, time heals, and Hodges was hired by his former coach and friend Phil Jackson to be a special assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers. For six years Hodges assisted the Lakers shooters, getting praise from forward Trevor Ariza for helping to propel his game.


In 2012, Hodges participated in the 2012 All Star Weekend in Orlando, Fl clearing the racks in the Three-Point Shootout one last time. When Jackson moved on from the Lakers to the Knicks' front office, he landed Hodges a job as an assistant for the Westchester Knicks D-League organization in 2014. In 2015, Hodges became the team's interim head coach, a position that he held for the 2015 season.


Today players are still being called out for their lack of solidarity with the African-American communities of the United States, especially with the egregious killings of people of color by police being recorded to no avail. While stars like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James have spoken out, many have been reluctant, in fear of risking endorsements, or for lack of better words, biting the hand that feeds them. A true stickler for his beliefs, Hodges doesn't get the praise of Muhammad Ali or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, athletes who have risked everything to stand for what they believe in.

Having the gall to stand up to the most beloved-yet-feared player of All-Time as well as the President of the United States takes courage, yet it seems like courage is only accepted in certain instances.

Cover Image Credit: Flight Time

Popular Right Now

When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything
76699
views

They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.


Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The NBA Draft Lottery In A Nutshell

A quick overview of the 2019 NBA lottery and which teams got the best picks.

103
views

The NBA draft lottery took place on Tuesday night where all of the NBA teams were looking to see their fate heading into the 2019 draft. Many people know that anything can truly happen with a lottery. This year proved that statement again as the New Orleans Pelicans claimed the number one overall pick. The Pelicans had just a six percent chance of claiming the number one pick yet they still beat the odds. The Pelicans are now in the driver seat with picking up top prospect Zion Williamson from Duke University. Most teams that knew they weren't making the playoffs tried to tank this year in order to pursue the college basketball icon.

As for the remaining top five picks, the Memphis Grizzlies got the number two overall pick, the New York Knicks with the number three overall pick, the Los Angeles Lakers at number four, and finally the Cleveland Cavaliers at number five. Most of the teams with the highest percentage of claiming the #1 overall pick did not even make it in the top five which is rare. An example of this is the Phoenix Suns who had one of the worst records in the NBA this past season with a record of 19-63. The Suns got screwed over at this year's lottery where they claimed the #6 pick.

The teams that got the most out of this year's lottery were the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Atlanta Hawks. The Atlanta Hawks, in my opinion, got the benefit of the doubt this year as they have secured two spots in the first 10 draft picks of the 2019 NBA Draft. There is a lot of talent in this draft class so this is a make or break draft for a lot of these struggling teams. Prospects like RJ Barrett, Ja Morant, Jarrett Culver, and Cam Reddish. A lot of these prospects are ready to make an impact on whatever team they end up on. As for the projected number one overall pick Zion Williamson, he has gotten compared to NBA greats such as Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley.

During an interview with Bill Simmons on his podcast show, NBA star Kevin Durant said that Zion is a once-in-a-generation athlete. The 2019 NBA draft should be quite interesting to see where these top prospects end up playing for. One thing is for almost certain in that the New Orleans Pelicans are going to end up with Zion Williamson with the number one overall pick in this year's draft. With that being said the Pelicans could have quite a bright future with this future star and hopefully, the rookie can help keep NBA star Anthony Davis in New Orleans. Anything can happen though during the NBA draft and we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Related Content

Facebook Comments