There’s been a lot of renewed interest in NBA living legend Michael Jordan since the airing of “The Last Dance” documentary series. Yet many people still forget just how impactful MJ also was – and still is – off the court. Dubbed the greatest of all time (GOAT), MJ also helped Spike Lee fund his powerful “Malcolm X” film about the late Black nationalist leader.
Lee ran out of money month before the film’s production was completed and went on a campaign to persuade Black celebrities to donate funding to complete it. Jordan was one of them, reported Entrepreneur.
“It was a very rough time,” Lee said on The Bill Simmons podcast. “I got paid $1 million to make the film and I put that entire salary into the movie. I just didn’t have any more money.”
Lee appealed to Jordan’s competitive streak when asking him to support the film by telling him how much fellow NBA legend Magic Johnson had contributed. He said Jordan topped Johnson’s donation.
“Michael doesn’t like to lose tiddlywinks,” Lee exclaimed to Simmons.
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Other celebrities who invested in Lee’s film include: Janet Jackson, Prince, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Peggy Cooper-Cafritz and Tracey Chapman. Lee publicly thanked them on the film’s 25th Anniversary two years ago.
Arguably one of the biggest snubs the Academy Awards has given a deserving film and starring actor, the film beautifully chronicled Malcolm’s complex life and untimely death.
In 1992, Lee told the New York Times the film hadn’t received proper funding from the start. Lee also went against the grain and wishes of mainstream Hollywood to focus more ardently on Malcolm’s ‘Detroit Red’ days, in which he was involved in criminal activity. Black donor’s money helped Lee tell the beloved Nation Of Islam leader’s story his way.
“This is not a loan,” Lee told the paper at the time. “They are not investing in the film. These are black folks with some money who came to the rescue of the movie. As a result, this film will be my version. Not the bond company’s version, not Warner Brothers’. I will do the film the way it ought to be, and it will be over three hours.”
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