Battle of Hall of Famers: Kareem Calls Out Stockton’s Mask Mandate Defiance

It’s time to Break It Down!

Covid-19 has run rampant throughout the United States. The issue has divided the nation into masking vs. anti-masking, and vaxxers vs. anti-vaxxers. One of the latest controversies to emerge is Gonzaga University suspending the season tickets of its most famous alum, NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton. While the current rage in NBA circles centers on The LeBron vs. Jordan GOAT Debate, most of us have forgotten just how much Stockton brought to the game.

To provide context, while no one suggests he is the GOAT, Stockton’s imprint is lasting. He has one, possibly two records that may never be broken, in addition to his ironman legacy. First, he amassed 15,806 assists. For perspective, the active assist leader, Chris Paul, has 8,672 assists after 16 seasons. Stockton has 3,715 more than Jason Kidd, who is in second place. It’s often said, records are made to be broken. Chances are, if the NBA assist record is ever broken, it will be by someone not yet playing in the League. Stockton also has a healthy lead in NBA steals, a category in which he accumulated 3,265. Chris Paul is also the active leader in that category, with 2,002. Also, as with assists, Jason Kidd holds down the Number 2 spot, with 2,684. The separation is not as great here, but keep in mind, Kidd has been retired for more than 8 years. Chris Paul doesn’t have that many active years left. Someone may surpass him, but it won’t be Paul. Finally, in a category that is difficult to even fathom, Stockton played 16 seasons without missing a game, and played all 82 games in 17 of his 19 seasons. That doesn’t even account for playoff games.

As impressive as Stockton’s metrics are, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, formerly Lew Alcindor, is, or at least should be, in the discussion for GOAT. When he retired, he was the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with 38,387 points. Sidenote, LeBron James may actually play long enough to surpass Jabbar’s point total. However, Kareem also won a league-record six MVP awards, six championship rings, two Finals MVP awards, 15 NBA First or Second Teams, and a record 19 NBA All-Star Games. He was a two-time NBA Scoring Leader, and a four-time NBA Blocks Leader, the 1970 Rookie-of-the-Year, and holds Retired Jerseys in Milwaukee and Los Angeles…to go along with a statue in front of what was the Staples Center, now the Arena.  

So, what made this relative stat comparison germane? Here’s how it started.

In an interview with The Spokesman-Review, Stockton confirmed he is no longer allowed to attend basketball games at Gonzaga University, his alma mater, because he refuses to comply with the school’s COVID-19 mask mandate. The NBA’s all-time assist leader starred at Gonzaga for four seasons from 1980-84 before a 19-year Hall of Fame career with the Utah Jazz.

In first person, Stockton described it this way:

“Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit. And therefore, they received complaints and felt like from whatever the higher-ups — those weren’t discussed, but from whatever it was higher up — they were going to have to either ask me to wear a mask or they were going to suspend my tickets.”

The 59-year-old, who appeared in a documentary last year promoting COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories, also asserted that more than 100 professional athletes had died after taking the vaccine. 

While there is no scientific data that supports Stockton’s claims, this is what he asserted:

“I think it’s highly recorded now, there’s 150 I believe now, it’s over 100 professional athletes dead — professional athletes — the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court.”

That’s where Kareem entered the discussion.

Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticized Stockton for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. The NBA legend, who has been an outspoken advocate for the vaccines, previously called out Lakers star LeBron James for comparing COVID-19 to other illnesses.

Of Stockton, he said, “I think statements like [Stockton’s] make the public look upon athletes as basically dumb jocks for trying to explain away something that is obviously a pandemic, and the best way to fight pandemics is through vaccination and testing. Those are the means by which we identify the problem and do our best to mitigate it.

I don’t understand anyone saying anything else that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense what he’s saying. This is a preventative measure that has been useful in many different circumstances.”

I’ve have tried to remove myself from the center of this debate. Principally, I decided that I would no longer argue with adults about their need to take steps to protect their health, not to mention the health and well-being of those who they love, and who love them. I can now take comfort in the NBA’s leading scorer doing it for me. “Battle Of Hall Of Famers: Kareem Calls Out Stockton’s Mask Mandate Defiance!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

MLK, Jr.: Quotes You Don’t Remember…Or Perhaps Never Heard (Relayed by Nikole Hannah-Jones)

It’s time to Break It Down!

Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Over the years, I’ve written a post about Dr. King, the holiday, and how it came to pass. Today, I am again revisiting a post I initially wrote and posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011, and that I reprised January 18, 2017, January 17, 2018, and again, January 23, 2019, examining the advent of the King Holiday. It’s been 36 years since the initial observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (MLK DAY), and 39 years since President Reagan signed the MLK, Jr. Holiday bill into law. Contemporary events continue to remind us that now is an apt time to look into the rearview mirror of time.

After over three decades of inculcation into the very fabric of our society, it may be largely forgotten that the conceptualization, submission and continual resubmission of the idea, the enactment, and the gradual national observance, was not the product of universal acceptance of a grand and enlightened concept, but rather, was emblematic of the civil rights struggle itself; steeped in controversy, and the eventual victory of a relentless movement to achieve richly deserved, and long overdue social justice.

Several members of Congress, a number of states, and even a President, using a host of creative means, sought to undermine, outmaneuver, sabotage, subvert, and otherwise derail the efforts of the measure’s proponents. Ultimately, the movement was consolidated, snowballed, and would simply not be thwarted.

The effort to create a King Holiday was started by U.S. Representative John Conyers, Michigan, shortly after Dr. King’s death, in the spring of 1968. It was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 1979, but fell 5 votes short of the number needed for passage in the Lower Chamber.

High profile opponents to the measure included Senator Jesse Helms, NC, Senator John McCain, AZ, and President Ronald Reagan. Both Senators voted against the bill, and Senator McCain publicly supported Arizona Governor Evan Mecham for his rescission of MLK Day as a State Holiday in Arizona. The campaign however, reached a critical mass in the early 1980’s. Spurred on by Stevie Wonder penning a song in King’s honor called, “Happy Birthday,” a petition drive to support the campaign would attract over 6 million signatures. It has been called the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. History.

Buttressed by what had become a wildly successful public campaign, Congress soon followed suit. The proposal passed in the House by a vote of 338-90, and in the Upper Chamber by a vote of 78-22. Given the dimensions of this overwhelming support, in the form of bicameral veto-proof votes, President Reagan signed the provision November 2, 1983, and it became Federal Law. The first observance under the new law took place January 20, 1986, rather than on January 15th, Dr. King’s birthday. A compromise in the legislation specified that the observance take place on the Third Monday in January, consistent with prior legislation (Uniform Monday Holiday Act).

Of course, that was not the end of the story. It would take more than 30 years after Dr. King’s death before the Holiday was fully adopted and observed in all 50 states. Illinois holds the distinction of being the first State to adopt MLK Day as a State Holiday, having done so in 1973. Twenty years later, in 1993, for the first time, some form of MLK Day was held in each of the 50 States. 

It was not until 2000 that South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges signed a bill to make MLK Day a paid holiday for State employees; giving the Palmetto State the dubious distinction of being the last of the 50 States to do so. However, Mississippi also sets itself apart by designating the Third Monday in January as a shared Holiday that honors the memory of Robert E. Lee and Dr. King…two fine southern gentlemen.

Last summer after entertaining a whirlwind, on again off again, job offer at UNC, journalist, McArthur Fellow, Pulitzer Prize winner, and UNC alum Nikole Hannah-Jones opted to choose Howard University as her next employer, over UNC. Ms. Hannah-Jones, who gained notoriety for her work on the 1619 Project, has become a lightning rod for discourse around issues of civil rights, and the much-ballyhooed topic known as Critical Race Theory, #CRT. 

This week, NH-J was invited to give an MLK speech on Monday. She discovered that a few members of the group hosting her wrote and subsequently leaked emails opposing her giving the speech. Those who opposed her felt it dishonored Dr. King to do so and characterized her as a “discredited activist” “unworthy of such association with King.”

This insight motivated her to call an audible. She scrapped her original speech and spent the first half of her speech reading excerpts from several of Dr. King’s speeches…without revealing that they were his words. She subbed BLACK for Negro, to avoid dating the material and giving away the fact that it was from over half a century ago. Literally, that’s all it took to transport to 2022.

Here is some of Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 2022 MLK, Jr. Day speech:

“It was in the year 1619 that the first BLACK slave was brought to the shores of this nation. They were brought here from the soils of Africa and unlike the Pilgrim fathers who landed here at Plymouth a year later, they were brought here against their will…”

“White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society…The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and racism…”


“The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power. A nation that continues year after year to spend more $ on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

“The crowning achievement in hypocrisy must go to those staunch Republicans and Democrats of the Midwest and West who were given land by our government when they came here as immigrants from Europe. They were given education through the land grant colleges…”

“These are the same people that now say to black people, whose ancestors were brought to this country in chains and who were emancipated in 1863 without being given land to cultivate or bread to eat; that they must pull themselves up by their own bootstraps…”

“What they truly advocate is Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor… “We know full well that racism is still that hound of hell which dogs the tracks of our civilization.”

“Ever since the birth of our nation, White America has had a Schizophrenic personality on the ? of race, she has been torn between selves. A self in which she proudly professes the great principle of democracy and a self in which she madly practices the antithesis of democracy.”

“The fact is, there has never been a single, solid, determined commitment on the part of the vast majority of white Americans to genuine equality for Black people.”

“The step backwards has a new name today, it is called the white backlash, but the white backlash is nothing new. It is the surfacing of old prejudices, hostilities and ambivalences that have always been there…”

“The white backlash of today is rooted in the same problem that has characterized America ever since the black man landed in chains on the shores of this nation.”

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance…with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that BLACK AMERICANS HAVE come far enough.”

“…for the good of America, it is necessary to refute the idea that the dominant ideology in our country, even today, is freedom and equality and that racism is just an occasional departure from the norm on the part of a few bigoted extremists.”

“If America does not respond creatively to the challenge to banish racism, some future historian will have to say, that a great civilization died because it lacked the soul and commitment to make justice a reality for all men.”

“Why do white people seem to find it so difficult to understand that the Black people are sick and tired of having reluctantly parceled out to THEM those rights and privileges which all others receive upon birth or entry in America?”

“I never cease to wonder at the amazing presumption of much of white society, assuming that they have the right to bargain with the BLACK for their freedom…”

Oh, the uncomfortable silence as I read Dr. King’s words at a commemoration of Dr. King’s life when people had no idea that these were his words. When I revealed that everything I said to that point was taken from his speeches between ’56 and 67… Can you say SHOOK!

Then I read all the names that white Americans called King: charlatan, demagogue, communist, traitor — and brought out the polling showing more than three-quarters of Americans opposed King at his death while 94 percent approve of him now.

I left them with this: People who oppose today what he stood for back then do not get to be the arbiters of his legacy. The real Dr. King cannot be commodified, homogenized, and white-washed and whatever side you stand on TODAY is the side you would have been back then.

In fact, most white Americans in 1963 opposed the March on Washington where Dr. King gave the “I Have A Dream Speech” with that one line that people oppose to anti-racism like to trot out against those working for racial justice.

When the speech was over, Father Pfleger, who had been cheering me on from the crowd, whispered in my ear: That’s what you call the “You Gone Learn Today” speech and I . Because, yeah.

“This is why the 1619 Project exists. This is why the decades of scholarship that undergirds the 1619 Project exists. Because if we do nothing, they will co-opt our history and use it against us.”

Dr. King was a radical critic of racism, capitalism and militarism. He didn’t die. He was assassinated. And many, including Regan, fought the national holiday we’re now commemorating. “If you haven’t read, in entirety, his speeches, you’ve been miseducated & I hope that you will.”

As it was in 1622, 1722, 1822, 1922, and yeah, remains in 2022… MLK, Jr.: Quotes You Don’t Remember…Or Perhaps Never Heard (Relayed by Nikole Hannah-Jones).

I’m done; holla back!–T2c63h3l3BCwu8

Maya Angelou: She’s On The Money

It’s time to Break It Down!

In 2014, a 9-year-old girl wrote then-President Obama a letter suggesting that Harriet Tubman’s likeness adorn the $20 bill. In 2016, The President warmed to the idea and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the Government would release a “final concept design” for the bill in 2020. However, after a change in administrations, subsequently, in May of 2019, Trump Administration Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced that the new design would not be unveiled until 2028. Many of the initial reports suggested that the delay was precipitated by Mnuchin slow playing the process. Upon further inquiry, several Obama era officials have stated the 2020 date was unrealistic, and that the timing for release of the new bills remains on schedule.

Meanwhile, this week, the United States Mint announced it has begun shipping quarters featuring the image of poet Maya Angelou, the first coins in its American Women Quarters Program.

Angelou was born, Marguerite Annie Johnson, April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, but became a North Carolina transplant, where she resided in Winston-Salem until her death. She was an author, poet, and Civil Rights activist. Her initial rise to prominence was fueled by the success of the publication, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in 1969. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou, who died in 2014 at the age of 86 (May 28), was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

The coin which depicts Ms. Angelou’s likeness has a design that shows Angelou with outstretched arms. In the background, there appears a bird in flight and s rising sun, images inspired by her poetry. The new mint program will issue 19 more quarters over the next four years, including 4 more this year; all honoring women and their achievements in shaping our American History.

Future 2022 honorees include physicist and first woman astronaut, Sally Ride, first female principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and first female Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools, Nina Otero-Warren, and the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong.

Senator Catherine Cortez Mastro, D-Nevada, the Senate sponsor of the legislation directing the Mint to issue the quarters honoring women, applauded the Mint’s selection of Angelou for the first coin. She said:

“This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women.”

It’s a long way from the $20 bill to a quarter. That’s a gap worthy of a blog, in and of itself. But not today. There’s too much else worthy of investing energy on…like President Biden’s voting bills…but I digress. This post is about a deserving author, poet, and civil rights activist. “Maya Angelou: She’s On The Money!”

I’m done; holla back! 

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

What Goes Around Comes Around: 2021…1865 Mindset All Over Again

It’s time to Break It Down!

From time to time, I run across a story which, for my purposes, there is simply nothing to add. Today is one of those times. Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021 coup attempt; an effort to overturn the duly executed election of the President of the United States. As is warranted, a serious discourse about this subject has ensued over the course of the past year. The country is split over the matter. Meanwhile Donald Trump has continued doubling down on the big lie. Below, the writer explores the countervailing notions that helped fuel the actions of January 6th, and also explain the existence of the ideological fault lines that cause so many Americans to line up on different sides of this issue and others that similarly divide us.

Dr. Peniel E. Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in ethics and political values and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor of history. He is the author of “Stokely: A Life” and “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.” The views expressed here are his own. This Opinion appeared on yesterday’s edition of

Two opposing historical forces have the power to shape American democracy in 2022. These worldviews took shape in the aftermath of the Civil War and have, ever since, undergirded America’s legal and legislative systems, national policies on voting rights and criminal justice and our understanding (or, at times, denial of) of historical memory since 1865.

Centuries later, Americans exist between these two 19th-century poles — reconstructionist and redemptionist — and their opposition deepens the 21st-century social fractures confronting us about everything from classroom curricula to voting rights to the notion of truth itself. Understanding the deep roots of these contemporary conflicts is crucial to any effort in 2022 and beyond to thwart their toxic effects on US politics — and the lives of everyday Americans. 

The racial and political reckoning of 2020, one that spilled over into 2021, played out in large part based on the framework of American democracy that came into being during the Reconstruction period. That’s because the clash between the reconstructionist and redemptionist perspectives was, at its heart, a battle over the story we told the world and each other, about ourselves and our country. That battle continues and will likely define the politics of 2022. 

Reconstructionism grew from the effort to interpret the period after the Civil War as a second American Founding. Abraham Lincoln said as much during his famous Gettysburg Address in 1863; the war, he explained in a mere 270 words, would give America “a new birth of freedom.” Reconstructionists embraced the potential in these words to achieve a new country based on multiracial democracy — long before the modern civil rights movement in the 20th century.

Historians sometimes refer to the violent racial backlash that followed as Redemption. The “redeemer” South, populated by vengeful ex-Confederates and a resentful White working-class, vowed to reject any hint of Black equality and regarded Reconstruction as a political and moral disaster. 

Over time, from the late 19th century until the 1960s, and with a reach that carried well into the 20th century in ways that are still visible today, they successfully reshaped American memory regarding the cause of the Civil War. They enshrined myths and lies of Southern nobility into history textbooks, films, and popular culture — and found willing allies (first in the Democratic Party) in the Republican Party of the late 1960s who, in pursuit of economic greed and political stability, betrayed the struggle for Black equality they had once supported. 

They did so at the expense of the nation’s soul — and this struggle continues to play out in our own time. 

It’s happened quite literally in the public square. Monuments in praise of the Confederacy that sought to forever render Black Americans inferior — themselves erected in a concerted effort to fashion communities in a redemptionist image — took on new dimensions of complexity in the shadow of protests following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Likewise, BLM activists’ call to “defund the Police” were rooted in a Reconstruction-era criminal justice system that targeted Black people for punishment and whose determinations of Black criminality helped to facilitate the grotesque system of mass incarceration that America has today.

These Reconstructionist efforts to end the criminalization of Black bodies, in part by telling a fuller history of how racism shaped the creation of American law enforcement, clashed in 2021 with redemptionist attacks on teaching this history at all. The national controversy over so-called Critical Race Theory and how America’s history of racism should be taught in our classrooms grew louder, even as physical manifestations of redemptionism — Confederate monuments and symbols that dot the nation’s built environment — were removed. 

Late in 2021, news that the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia — the one that helped to spark the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 whose violence may forever mar that city’s landscape — will be repurposed as a work of art helped to illustrate the as-yet-unfinished reckoning with the legacy of the Confederacy. That rally left one woman dead and recriminations that reached all the way back to the White House, where Trump infamously proclaimed that there “were good people” on both sides.

This Lee statue, one of many erected in tribute to the Confederate General who famously surrendered to Union Chief Ulysses S. Grant outside the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia in April 1865, will be transformed by a local African American heritage center into a piece of public art that affirms, rather than denigrates, the ongoing search for racial justice in America. Another Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, the headquarters of the Old Confederacy, has been removed with the statue and its enormous pedestal scheduled for transfer to the city’s Black History Museum. The Lee statue will become part of a public art effort, Swords into Plowshares, designed to transform symbols of racial hatred into evocative works of public memorial.

This has already occurred in Richmond, where, two miles from the place where the statue of Lee once stood, a new “Emancipation and Freedom Monument” consisting of two 12-foot bronze statues has been erected. This public art display, in contrast to symbols of the Confederacy, memorializes and celebrates the abolition of slavery and the resilience of the Black family symbolized by the statues of a man, woman, and infant child. 

These efforts at repurposing memorials and symbols related to America’s history of racial violence is part of a larger process that may lead to national healing. Consider the recent efforts to atone for a massacre and coup d’etat that took place in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898 and left hundreds dead — a brutal imposition of White political rule after the progress of Reconstruction. 

On November 10, 2021, 123 years later, the city buried Joshua Halsey, a Black man shot 14 times and buried in an unmarked grave. Researchers uncovered his remains, and while the 47-year-old father of four never lived to see an America not threatened by his dreams, his descendants — some of whom were in attendance at his funeral, along with some of Wilmington’s residents and local leaders — might.

Wilmington’s and the nation’s shame in this remarkable instance turned into an opportunity for shared mourning across color lines and political divisions. “There are so many people in our community who had no clue,” Linda Thompson, the chief diversity and equity officer for New Hanover County (where Wilmington is located) told the New York Times. “They are certainly trying, wanting to know more.” Such an example offers a path forward toward the creation of a new politics that is not held hostage by the continual stranglehold of ancient grievances. 

After the grotesque display of violence, privilege and racism at the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection, those who insisted “this is not who we are” were not entirely incorrect. The wildly unhinged (and modern-day redemptionist) attempts to overturn a federal election and to minimize the ongoing threats to our democracy for that purpose are not all of who we are. 

The ongoing battle between reconstructionists and redemptionists will shape American politics in 2022 and beyond. Whether they are the backdrop to the anniversary of January 6, the challenges confronting the Biden-Harris administration or the GOP’s anticipated success in the midterm elections, these competing worldviews continue, for better and worse, to forge our national identity. But they do not predetermine our destiny unless we let them. “What Goes Around Comes Around: 2021…1865 Mindset All Over Again!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below: