IN today’s era, a shooter is one of the most valuable assets in the NBA.
If one of the best shooters in the league becomes a free agent, they’ll have unwavering interest from teams — but that wasn’t the case for Craig Hodges in the 1990s.
Craig Hodges played in the NBA for a decadeCredit: Getty
He played on the Bulls for four yearsCredit: Getty
Hodges won the Three-Point Contest three timesCredit: Getty
Hodges played in the NBA for a decade, teaming up with Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls from 1988-1992, helping Jordan win his first two of six championships.
The now 63-year-old was one of the league’s best three-point shooters, too, winning the annual Three-Point Shooting Contest three times – in 1990, 1991, and 1992.
But after Hodges helped the Bulls to two back-to-back titles while winning three consecutive Three-Point Contests, he was out of the NBA at 31.
However, this was no coincidence – and it had no relation to his play on the court.
Hodges was, and still is, an outspoken activist.
While in the NBA, Hodges claims he tried to push Jordan to publicly speak about social justice issues, to no avail.
He also wanted to halt Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals between the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
In response to Rodney King’s beating a few months earlier, Hodges turned to Jordan and Magic Johnson for support, but they refused the idea.
In an interview with CBS in 2020, Hodges detailed the situation.
He said: “I knew the answer before I went to them. What’s funny to me, is how quick they dismissed it. Both conversations lasted less than two minutes.
“Magic was coming on the court the day before the first game, and I asked him about it and he tells me ‘it’s too extreme.’
“I already discussed it with Mike in the locker room, and he tells me, ‘man, that’s wild, man.’ So it’s not anything I haven’t faced before.”
Months later, after the Bulls won their first of three consecutive championships, Hodges and his teammates visited the White House to be honored by President George H.W. Bush.
Controversially, Hodges wore a white dashiki, an African garment, and wrote a letter to the president that detailed the racism and problems which were, and still are, plaguing the African-American community.
Then, in 1992, he was suddenly waived by the Bulls.
Given his track record and excellent shooting résumé, Hodges expected other teams to come calling – but nobody did.
Little did he know, Hodges had played his final NBA game.
Despite the situation, he’s at least pleased with how players today handle social justice issues.
Hodges added: “I love it. I love the fact that they’re dealing with the information that they have, and they’re working with the information that they have.
“You don’t have to be a historical scholar, but you have to have empathy. You have to try to see the world not from your millionaire eyesight, but from the poorest person sitting on the corner with a can in their hand asking you for a dollar.
“That’s the way I see some of these young brothers, they’re feeling that, because they’re not too far removed from that.”
Hodges shot 40 percent from three-point territory in his careerCredit: Getty
He was out of the league by age 31Credit: Getty