Politics

The Jordan Spirit of Banks-McLaughlin

Fresh into the new year, Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin looks forward to what lies ahead after closing out 2023 victorious. She filed for candidacy for NC State Representative, District 42, on the same day she took oath for her third term on the Fayetteville city council on December 6, 2023.

Just thirty years before her clean sweep victory, in the summer of 1993, Michael Jordan won his third championship as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Phoenix Suns.

The three-peat solidified his stance, separating himself from Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to create a name for himself in the NBA. Banks-McLaughlin’s three-peat win also established her as one of Fayetteville’s recognized politicians.

As a council member, she served on Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation, Cumberland County People of Disability, Stormwater, Military RULAC, Fayetteville-Cumberland Liaison Committee, and Vice Chair of the Homeless Advisory Committee.

L-R: Back of Michael Jordan’s jersey (Getty Images); Courtney on the hardwood floor (Courtney Banks-McLaughlin/Facebook)

The columnist had a chance to hear what each win meant to her. Her resiliency, determined attitude, and tenacity resemble Jordan’s first three championship journeys with the Bulls.

FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP

When Jordan won his first NBA championship in 1991, it was against a well-established Lakers team. As a successful franchise dominating the 1980s, the Lakers had won 11 championships. The critics favored the unstoppable Johnson and the Lakers to win it all.

She ran as a new candidate against mayor pro-tem Ted Mohn, an eminent politician who served three terms. She received some criticism about the impossibility of defeating Mohn. She silenced the critics’ voices and faithfully accepted the journey to execute her campaign. Her campaign team consisted of her children and a friend, who played the role of her campaign manager.

Courtney Banks-McLaughlin at the Meet the Candidate Forum hosted by the Fayetteville Alumnae Chapter of
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc; Photo Credit: Tracey Morrison

Jordan had a harrowing experience after losing to the 1990 Detroit Pistons. Known as the Bad Boys for their on-court physicality, the Pistons established the “Jordan Rule” by using hard plays to stop Jordan. After the Bulls’ 1990 semi-final loss, Jordan trained himself to become stronger by working out in the gym. He knew that advancing to another dimension of greatness required getting out of his comfort zone. His tenacity spirit led him to defeat the Pistons the following year to advance to the 1991 NBA finals against the Lakers.

With Banks-McLaughlin, to achieve the greatest, it would require her to get mentally prepared in executing a strong campaign. It was a purpose she knew she had to fulfill that was on the other side of her fear of the unknown. Banks-McLaughlin going the extra mile in her campaign paid off as she won her first championship. She had the community buzzing on Election Night 2019 when she won her first term.

In Jordan’s situation, after winning his first championship, he was in conversations with Magic, Larry Bird, and Isaiah Thomas.

Michael Jordan first championship win – 1991; House of Highlights/YouTube

After his first championship win, a reporter asked Jordan, “Is there a feeling of passing the torch from Magic to you?” Jordan didn’t see it as the passing of the torch, saying that there are greats out there who will continue the legacy.

For Banks-McLaughlin, being elected to represent District “8” on the City Council was a moment of fate. In addition to “eight” signifying her birth month, the number also biblically denotes a “new beginning” to serve her community.

SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP

In Jordan’s 1991 victory speech, he told the assembled crowd in Chicago that the team would return for another year. The Bulls played the Portland Trailblazers in the 1992 NBA finals that following year.

“We came with a focus to duplicate. Exceed what we did the previous year,” Jordan shared in an interview about winning his second championship. Former Bulls player BJ Armstrong added, “If we’re going to do it again, we’re going to be in it together.”

After her first term win, she came into her second campaign believing the impossible. She brought that Jordan spirit to her campaign strategy with a determined mindset. “I felt I could do anything,” she stated.

Michael Jordan famous shrug during the 1992 NBA Finals; ESPN/YouTube

She heard the saying about raising a lot of money to win, but she was still confident. Jordan was known for his famous shrug in the 1992 finals, indicating that this is easy. She shrugged off the critics, blocking out the negativity and doing what’s in her heart to win.

Banks-McLaughlin did just that with her second campaign with an innovative strategy in the summer months of 2022, with the help of her supportive cast, to defeat Michael Pinkston.

Courtney Banks-McLaughlin takes oath for her second-term on City Council, August 2022; Photo Credit: Fayetteville Observer

Her second win proved that you don’t need much money to win a campaign. Her strong relationship with her constituents also solidified her stance as the reigning champ.

THIRD CHAMPIONSHIP

Banks-McLaughlin had a clean sweep win during last year’s election. She referred to her third-term win as a gift. “I’m grateful that the community trusted me to represent them for another term. I ran unopposed, so that’s a true blessing,” she explained.

Jordan’s hot championship streak, including his gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics with the Dream Team, quickly made him a globally recognizable face. The team’s first three-peat established them as a mini-dynasty.

Banks-McLaughlin signs documents after taking oath into office – December 2023; Photo Credit: Andrew Craft/Fayetteville Observer

Banks-McLaughlin’s three-peat dynasty proves she has established herself as well-versed in serving her community. In addition to her local accomplishments, she was appointed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to serve on the Governor’s Crime Commission in April 2023.

Banks-McLaughlin doesn’t see herself as the average politician. She believes it’s her calling as a servant to help people.

THE JORDAN TENACITY

When asked where her tenacity came from, she shared that it had been engraved in her since childhood.

“I have a passion to serve the community. It’s nothing like being able to see the work I’ve done. It’s a good feeling to resolve my constituents’ issues and concerns. I like seeing people happy. It’s just natural for me. The benefit of what I’m doing is that I want to see people happy,” she shared.

She also continues to persevere, even after the tragic loss of her daughter on October 21, 2022. Jordan, too, experienced the same thing with the death of his father. Although he retired to play baseball, he returned to the sport he love, resuming his tenacity spirit on the hardwood. The race is not over for Banks-McLaughlin, as she knows her work is not in vain.

“When people compliment me and tell me they’re proud of me, it’s a good thing. It’s almost like a reminder, but at the same time, I must always keep that in mind and know that myself,” she stated.

23 AND COUNTING

In her run for NC State Representative, District 42, she has big hopes for the new year. Twenty-three means to “encourage us to keep going on our life path and to maintain a positive mode of thinking.” For her, its a momentum to carry that winning spirit into the new year.

Michael Jordan interviewed by reporters on winning three straight championships (6/20/1993); MJ23 His Airness Forever/YouTube

A reporter once asked Jordan, after winning his third championship, “Are you satisfied, Michael? Three! That’s enough. Isn’t it?” the reporter said.

Jordan replied, “Nah, it’s never enough as long as you compete. It’s always great to win. That’s why you compete.”

More is in store for Banks-McLaughlin as she aims to win the seat for NC State Representative.

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