For a lot of people, the words Michael Jordan and North Carolina go hand in hand. Some die-hard sports fans followed Jordan at Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington.
Even more fans followed him during his days at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. And those MJ fans followed him to the Chicago Bulls (and White Sox), then to the Washington Wizards. Now, they’ve even followed him to the Charlotte Hornets.
Now, as of last night, they’ll likely be following him to a new sport also: NASCAR.
Michael Jordan Joins NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin for New Cup Series Team in 2021
Last night, Denny Hamlin, a NASCAR driver and Jordan Brand athlete, tweeted that he and Jordan are “starting a new, single car @NASCAR Cup Series team for 2021.”
“Deciding on a driver was easy,” he tweeted. “[I]t had to be @BubbaWallace.”
You might know Wallace from the high-profile media coverage he has received as NASCAR’s only Black driver. In June, outlets covered a possible hate crime against Wallace, as he claimed someone had left a noose in his dock at Talladega. However, the FBI found that the alleged noose had appeared back in 2019 as a garage pull, rather than a targeted hate crime.
But, as race relations remained tense, Wallace became a central figure for NASCAR. This was, in part, due to his visibility and willingness to speak up.
But Wallace isn’t simply NASCAR’s only Black driver. He’s also one of the sport’s best. And, now, he’ll likely be driving a car with a “Jumpman Logo” for years to come.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” Wallace tweeted Monday night. “I’m grateful and humbled that they believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
Jordan credits his North Carolina childhood and the need for diversity in his move to NASCAR.
Jordan named growing in North Carolina as one reason for his decision to take the leap to NASCAR. “Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters, and me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life,” he said in a statement issued through the Hornets’ Twitter account.
He also emphasized the important roles he and Wallace could play in adding to NASCAR’s diversity. “Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners,” he said. “The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”
If somebody would have told you yesterday that they were going to see Michael Jordan’s team in Charlotte, you’d imagine them at the Spectrum Center in a teal Devonte’ Graham jersey. Now, though, you might imagine them with a Bubba Wallace replica NASCAR in their hands at Charlotte Motor Speedway.