SI writer calls out MJ
SI writer calls out Michael Jordan for refusing to help high school coach Pop Herring
Published Thursday, Aug 16, 2012 at 9:46 am EDT Last updated 23 hours and 14 minutes ago
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Michael Jordan is taken to task by Thomas Lake, a writer for Sports Illustrated, for not lending a hand to his mentally ill former high school basketball coach at Laney High in Wilmington, N.C., Clifton "Pop" Herring.
In an open letter to Jordan, Lake writes Jordan should show some compassion for Herring, a "sick and indigent man" living in "tumbledown old house," and one who was recently put in jail on questionable grounds. Also one who, according to Lake, opened the Laney High gym for Jordan at 6 a.m., "let (Jordan) borrow his car and had (him) over to his house and treated (him) like a son."
Michael Jordan has received criticism for not offering assistance to his former high school coach. (AP Photo)One well-known story about Jordan’s past is that he did not make his high school varsity squad when he was a sophomore. Jordan has always said he was cut from the team and called out Herring during his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2009. "I wanted to make sure you understood: You made a mistake, dude."
Writes Lake, "Well, it was your mistake. You used what should have been a joyful occasion to call out a man for something he did not actually do. A sick and indigent man at that. As we both know, Pop's life fell apart after you left town. Not his fault. A disease ran in his family, paranoid schizophrenia or some such thing, and he started acting strange, and he lost his job, and his wife, and his daughter, and pretty much everything else. Took to drinking, as you or I might do in similar circumstances."
Herring was arrested recently after a man staying at his house was charged with killing a woman and burying her in the yard. Lake confirmed with the D.A. that Herring had nothing to do with the crime and writes that Herring was incapable of keeping the alleged murderer — a serial rapist — out of his home. The man was taking advantage of him.
Because of Herring’s mental illness, Lake writes, he missed court dates and had a warrant issued for his arrest. He was put in jail, and Lake took $100 out of his own bank account to post Herring’s bond.
The last time Jordan saw Herring, according to Lake, was in 1994 at a celebration in Chicago, when Herring was booed after Jordan introduced him as "the first guy who ever cut me."
Lake writes, “Mike, I know you can’t fix Pop. But you can help him. He helped make you, and now you are a very rich man.”
Lake suggests that Jordan purchase Herring’s house, knock it down and build a new one; hire some caretakers and an exterminator; buy him some life essentials, like a clothes, dishwasher and a bedframe; and perhaps make a call to Nike and tell them his old coach needs a new pair of shoes.
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