Controversial NASCAR star says owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, now that he has unloaded the Charlotte Hornets, can focus on his NASCAR team, and for driver Bubba Wallace, that can be good and bad.

“He’s always just giving you jabs,” Wallace told the Chicago Sun Times, “checking your confidence and making sure it’s in check. And that’s super important. But he’s always going to rag on you about something, so you’ve got to be ready for it.”

Jordan, a a co-owner with Denny Hamlin, of 23XI Racing, will have Wallace, in the No. 23 Toyota, and Tyler Reddick, in the No. 45 Toyota, in Sunday’s Grant Park 220 downtown street race. Hamlin, a minority partner, drives the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Driving the No. 23 car in a Chicago street race brings its own pressures.

“I’ve learned there are a lot of people that are rooting for the 23 car out there across the globe, and that’s really, really cool,” Wallace told the newspaper. “So to be here in Chicago, where I know 23 has a massive significance, it’s just cool to be carrying the number and the colors and everything else about it.”

Wallace says meeting Jordan the first time was unnerving but he’s over it.

“It’s always cool, it’s always special, right?” he said. “If I was in your shoes, I’d be really, really excited to be hanging out with him. For me, I think I had that moment the first time I met him, in Daytona [Fla.] two years ago, but then after that it’s just another guy. He’s just another guy. He’s got his posse, his group with him, but he’s so down to earth and fun to talk to.”

A controversial figure who has spoken out on issues of social justice and racial inequality, Wallace has been a target for fans who believe he gets unearned attention because he’s Black.

“I’m a very raw and real guy,” Wallace said. “I’m 50-50 liked or hated, but that’s OK. I can go to sleep at night knowing that I’m being myself, and that’s just who I am. We’ve got to feel more comfortable just being real and being real about what we do.”


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Controversial NASCAR star says owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan

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