Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan thought about all the spots that made Wilmington home growing up and was moved to dramatic action.
“You gotta take care of home,” Jordan told the Observer Tuesday, in an exclusive interview about his decision to contribute $2 million to relief and recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
Jordan was raised in the coastal city of Wilmington before moving on to star at North Carolina and in the NBA. He said scenes of the destruction from rain and wind in both North and South Carolina had him flashing back to old haunts.
“Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to,” Jordan said. “And the deaths - it was so sad about the babies (that died, including one in Gaston County). You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.”
Jordan’s contribution will be in the form of $1 million each to the American Red Cross and the Foundation for the Carolinas Florence Response Fund. The Red Cross is providing food and shelter to those displaced by the storm. The Foundation for the Carolinas directs funds to non-profits in North and South Carolina.
Jordan told the Observer that two-pronged approach is intended to address not just the immediate impact of the storm but the long-term effects on those all over the Carolinas whose lives have been changed for the worse
“People need to understand this will not be a week-long process. This is going to have a huge disruption on people’s lives - not for 10 days, but for years,” Jordan said.
Jordan aspires that his contribution can have a viral effect on others to donate money and effort, and not view this as a problem that will be solved in a matter of weeks.
“I hope people understand the importance of this and direct their attention to making things better,” Jordan said. “It’s going to take a lot of performance all over” the Carolinas.
In addition to Jordan’s contribution, the Hornets are making two other initiatives:
▪ Team personnel will gather Friday to pack thousands of disaster food boxes in partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Metrolina and Food Lion.
▪ Also, the Hornets are partnering with Fanatics on a hurricane relief T-shirt. The net proceeds from sales of that Hornets “Carolina Strong” T-shirt will go to the Foundation for the Carolinas relief fund. Those T-shirts can be ordered online at hornetsfanshop.com
Hornets executive vice president Pete Guelli said a key element of this effort was reinforcing that Florence recovery will be a long-term process.
“That’s critical. Every day more and more damage is being uncovered,” Guelli said. “That’s why it was so important to our owner to not just contribute but to create a platform where we can be involved and continue to be involved.”
Jordan has made a number of major charitable contributions in recent years: He pledged $7 million toward opening two family medical clinics in at-risk and under-served areas in Charlotte. He also donated $5 million to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in 2016.