‘Unfit to be our next governor’: NC basketball greats speak out against Mark Robinson’s run for governor

NC basketball greats are speaking out against Mark Robinson's run for governor of North Carolina. (Photos: George Lynch in 1993, Doug Pensinger /Allsport; Charles "Chucky" Brown in 1987, Tom Olsen/NC State University Media; Peppi Browne-Armstrong, Duke Athletics)

By Billy Ball

April 19, 2024

NC has a long history of greatness on the basketball court. Now college basketball players from UNC, NC State, and Duke are wading into politics.

“I’d rather watch blind monkeys play marbles in the blazing sun than watch basketball on TV.”

Mark Robinson, the Republican candidate for NC Governor, said that once. Now, some of NC’s basketball greats are talking back.

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Chapelboro reported this week on a letter by nine former basketball players from UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, and NC State denouncing Robinson’s campaign for governor. The letter was distributed by a group calling itself Athletes 4 Justice. It described Robinson as “divisive, extreme, and unfit to be our next Governor.”

The letter was cosigned by former UNC players like George Lynch, Deborah Stroman, and Al Wood; NC State’s Charles “Chucky” Brown and Chasity Melvin; and Duke’s Gene Banks and Peppi Browne-Armstrong.

As Cardinal & Pine has reported, Robinson has a history of conspiracy theories and antisemitism, hateful language about LGBTQ people, and hostility toward women, particularly Black women.

He’s running against Democrat Josh Stein, the state’s attorney general.

Here’s the full letter:

We, the undersigned, join to publicly share our longstanding hope for a caring, diverse, equitable, and fair-minded state of North Carolina. We announce our support for political candidates who share these same values and discourage those who believe and do otherwise. To that end, we are certain that our current Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson, is divisive, extreme, and unfit to be our next Governor.

As residents and/or having roots in this great state, we have a strong interest in the progress and reputation of North Carolina. As residents and informed citizens in our communities, we have witnessed the growing animosity that seemingly has reversed much of the concerted efforts to make North Carolina a place that is welcoming to all — race, gender identity, class, and sexuality. We care about the positive development of our children, consideration of the needs of the elderly, improved health outcomes, economic growth of all 100 counties, and more. Robinson’s obsessive declarations of inaccuracies and meanness towards Black, Jewish, Muslim, immigrants, and transgender people is disrespectful, embarrassing, and harmful. In addition, his dismissal and disregard for women’s reproductive rights, racial and social justice organizations, educational strategies and activities that encourage the reading of certain books, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in our schools and companies is alarming, disturbing, and backwards.

Our experiences and faith walk requires us to speak out against injustice (Micah 6:8). We encourage every North Carolinian to be an informed voter by examining the man who uses his own interpretation of Christian scriptures to foment hate and bigotry. This upcoming November 5, 2024 election is about many serious issues, but we find the battle between our country’s democratic experiment and those who hold autocratic viewpoints to be the most critical. We may hold differing opinions on certain matters, but we are not single-issue voters. We are firm in our belief that our state cannot afford to be guided by a cruel politician. North Carolina deserves a visionary leader for all people.

Towards esse quam videri- “To be, rather than to seem”…

We are,

Gene Banks, Duke ‘81

Charles “Chucky” Brown, NC State ‘89

Peppi Browne-Armstrong, Duke ‘00

Darlene Cannon, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘87

Kathy Crawford, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘83

George Lynch, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘93

Chasity Melvin, NC State ‘99

Deborah Stroman, UNC-Chapel Hill (MA) ‘86

Al Wood, UNC-Chapel Hill ‘81


WATCH: 😡 Hate can win you a political campaign, but it’s harder to sustain a career out of it. That’s why the Republican candidate for North Carolina governor, Mark Robinson, is having a hard time winning over longtime Republican leaders, according to C&P Senior Editor Billy Ball. Robinson easily won the Republican primary for governor this year, but he’s yet to land the support of people like Sen. Thom Tillis, former Gov. Pat McCrory, and Dale Folwell. Folwell, a popular state treasurer, ran against Robinson in the primary, and he hasn’t backed off of his harsh criticism of Robinson’s angry campaign. Robinson has a history of comments that are antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, and anti-educators. And, though he’s a Black man, he has a history of comments that some in the Black community consider offensive. He’s running against Democrat Josh Stein, the state’s attorney general. For more NC politics, follow @cardinalandpine. 📷 Billy Ball/Shaun Sindelman for Cardinal & Pine

♬ original sound – Cardinal & Pine


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.



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