Michael Jordan To Become NASCAR Owner, Teams With Bubba Wallace

Michael Jordan announced Monday via Twitter that the Jordan brand will be partnering with Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin in NASCAR. So far in 2020, Bubba Wallace finished in the top 5 one time and hasn’t won a race. Wallace may not be winning now, but will Jordan’s deep pockets unlock his potential?

“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners,” Jordan said in his statement. “The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”

Michael Jordan has historically stayed out the limelight when it came to social matters, but he’s clearly changing course in 2020. Mike is taking a risk by choosing Bubba Wallace to make something of a major investment.

“I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing,” Jordan said.

Black people aren’t alone in the fact that we’re only inspired by dominance, and we aren’t sure if it was the Petty #43 car or Bubba Wallace that wasn’t working. Black athletes like Tiger Woods captivated a more broad audience because of his dominance, not just by being black. Putting money behind the Wallace name for a chance to build a black winner could be a game changer.

What works

MJ joins NBA player Brad Daugherty, a partner at JTG Daugherty Racing, as the only black owners at NASCAR’s elite Cup level.

This is seen as an accomplishment in itself, but minorities in general should be paying attention to what lasts. Having Jackie Robinson break the color barrier was important, but his play was just as impactful. For him to show the world he belonged at that level, his .311 career batting average and 1949 NL MVP did the trick. Accomplishments in the sport you’re looking to change can’t be overlooked so Jordan replacing Petty Sports needs to work.

Winning in NASCAR, like any other sport, will be incredibly difficult so Jordan needs to make sure Wallace has everything he needs to win. Michael is essentially saying that Bubba Wallace could be a winner if he had a better car and pit crew, so now we’ll get a chance to see the results. Jordan brand provides a potentially bottomless pit of resources to make sure the driver has everything he needs, so 2021 performance should be a good indicator.

What’s the risk?

“Deciding on the driver was easy — it had to be Bubba Wallace,” Jordan said.

A year ago Bubba Wallace said “We’re ballin’ on a budget” and that should explain this move from MJ. Wallace was driving for a diminishing Petty Motorsports with far from unlimited resources. 2021 will give us a real idea as to how Wallace might benefit from some real support.

We should want more participation from minorities everywhere, but you can’t make someone inspiring because they’re wearing Jordan 11’s. Jordan has to know this. MJ also must be aware of the size of the investment required for Wallace to have a shot at a checkered flag or two.

Michael Jordan and Bubba Wallace can’t just be happy about the positive PR now, but they have to make sure the investment impacts winning to make this worth anything. Failing to turn Wallace into a winner could hurt minorities looking for investment down the road, so all eyes should be on Wallace and the Jordan brand now.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for OutKick.com, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr

13 Comments

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  1. MJ is an all timer and my most favorite player what a great talent but teaming up with this Wallace dude who is a marginal driver at best never won a NASCAR race and isn’t going to anytime soon he will be disappointed to say the least. But its his dough and has plenty of it so at least have some fun.And Petty Motorsports had plenty good enough equipment to be competitive.

  2. The Jordan brand is very powerful, but I don’t think it is going to really translate into wins. When Bubba Wallace was at the center of the sports world, albeit briefly, I knew he was going to be a poster child for something. I didn’t know what for. However, when I heard that Wallace was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports, something was afoot at the Circle K. When Jordan partnered-up with Wallace, I realized what the plan was. MJ is trying to harness racial conflict, and NASCAR wants more “diversity” in its teams, drivers, and fans. I don’t see that happening. Jordan was smart to partner with Nike many moons ago, but his business acumen running the Charlotte Bobcats doesn’t bode well for him with NASCAR, which appears to be on the decline, regardless of his entry into the sport.

  3. Ultimately it comes down to how Bubba handles running good equipment. We can spot him a bit for middlin’ cars, because raw talent can take you so far in racing. He has won in the truck series, grant him that but Cup racin’ is another bird altogether.

    One final thought: Bubba needs to become a “Racer’s racer” meaning he is racing on off-days and off-weekends wherever he can. If he is to hone his craft like his new car owner did, he needs to be behind the steering wheel as much as possible. MJ was the first one in the gym and the last to leave and Bubba needs to emulate that to gain respect amongst the fans and his peers.

    • Bryan Lively, why didn’t RPM work out? I Petty is a racing legend, and I would be surprised if he was not able to draw sponsors and the like. Why was Petty Motorsports hard up for cash? Was he not liked within the NASCAR community?

  4. Nothing wrong with trying to diversify the sport. Culturally, its most hardcore fans have been Southern white guys…partly because it is where NASCAR originated. On my job, I come across many black people who watch NASCAR and have favorite drivers…so more black drivers is good. With one important stipulation: Stay the hell away from #BLM and social justice preaching. If NASCAR goes that route, the sport will not morph into a United Colors of Benneton/Formula I operation….it will collapse, quite quickly. I hope MJ is savvy enough to realize this.

  5. I wish MJ and BW nothing but success. NASCAR needs more diversity, for sure.

    But I am color blind. Always have been, always will be. In the Navy, you either were part of the solution or part of the problem and if you were part of the problem you documented issues, counseled, trained, motivated, led…whatever it took to move that individual, regardless of race, creed, sex, to the solution set.

    “Deciding on the driver was easy…” really MJ? As JW has pointed out, meritocracy is dead … and then you choose your driver based on race alone. That’s beyond ridiculous and shows preference based on race – the very idea black Americans are trying to remove from our culture

    I followed Richard Petty MS while BW was there. He’s a below-average, maybe average driver. There’s a long list of young men and women waiting for their chance. Maybe BW doesn’t have the reflexes/physical tools to be a top driver…but maybe he needs a $200M car and more advanced training systems – time will tell.

    But I contend he has shown his hand with the opportunities he’s been given. My advice would be to start an Inner City Racing Academy, with BW as your celebrity head coach, instructor etc. Move the needle by building something organic for the inner city kids – black, white, asian, latino… something they’ve never experienced…and find a dozen great drivers among them to build into an eventual NASCAR champion. Build an enterprise that empowers inner city kids directly.

    Again, I hope MJ racing wins and wins soon. Picking a driver based on race alone is not a good look. Good luck!!

  6. Just checked the finish of the latest NASCAR race and his boy wallace finished 22nd mid pack which is where he usually finishes hope Jordan likes mediocrity cause that’s what this dude is mediocre at best. But MJ will receive all the alienating baggage his boy brings with him so i guess that’s included in the deal NASCAR has been on a decline for awhile.

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