Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin Start NASCAR Team; Bubba Wallace Featured as Driver

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2020

Former basketball superstar Michael Jordan speaks during a press conference ahead of NBA basketball game between Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks in Paris, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus))
Thibault Camus)/Associated Press

Having conquered the hardwood, Michael Jordan is moving to the racetrack.

Denny Hamlin announced Monday he's partnering with Jordan for a NASCAR Cup Series team scheduled to debut in 2021. Bubba Wallace will be the lone driver representing the team on the track:

Wallace announced Sept. 10 he wasn't returning to Richard Petty Motorsports for the upcoming season:

The 26-year-old finished 23rd in the series standings, notching one top-five finish and five top-10s in 29 starts.

Wallace became vocal about social justice issues amid the ongoing protests against systemic racism and police brutality. In June, he called for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events, a step the organization took days later.

Later that month, NASCAR announced it was investigating what it believed might be a racist display made against Wallace after a rope tied into a noose was discovered in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway.

The FBI later determined the rope had been tied in that fashion well before Wallace and his team were assigned the garage.

"Some felt the phrasing of words used [in the initial statement] were not right," NASCAR President Steve Phelps told reporters once the results of the FBI investigation were announced. "I take full responsibility for that. Based on evidence we had, we felt one of our drivers had been threatened. It was our responsibility to react and investigate, and that's exactly what we did."

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In a show of solidarity with Wallace, NASCAR drivers pushed Wallace's No. 43 car to the front of pit road prior to the Geico 500 at Talladega. Hamlin expressed the importance of showing public support for Wallace.

This partnership will be Jordan's first official foray into NASCAR. He's already the principal governor for the Charlotte Hornets following his retirement from the NBA.

Hamlin, meanwhile, confirmed this move won't impact his work with Joe Gibbs Racing.