Michael Jordan is a disgrace as NBA owner
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com April 24, 2012 10:54PM
Blackhawks legends Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita flank absentee Bobcats owner Michael Jordan on Monday at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 9, 2012 10:28AM
There was Michael Jordan on Monday at the United Center, wearing a
Blackhawks jersey, watching a team (the Hawks) he has no
financial interest in perform a sport he knows nothing about, while his own franchise (the
Charlotte Bobcats) was being humiliated 800 miles away.
The man has pride, right?
Yet he stood with Hawks legends Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull in a city he has disowned, in a stadium he once owned, and smiled to the cameras while his Bobcats were being annihilated 101-73 in Washington by the lowly Wizards.
Jordan is the principal owner of the Bobcats.
It’s not fair to say the Bobcats are terrible. They are legendarily pitiable — to the point of embarrassment for the NBA, to the point that commissioner David Stern should step in and take them away from Jordan the way a government service will remove a child from an absent, uninterested parent.
It was shocking to see Jordan at the United Center. It was mind-boggling. Why, for heaven’s sake, wasn’t he with his team — a basketball team, remember, playing a sport Jordan gets — at least pretending to be concerned?
And, dear God, there he was again Tuesday, this time at Wrigley Field, watching the Cubs’ game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Chicago hockey, then baseball. What’s next, 16-inch softball?
Jordan supposedly is all about winning. Isn’t that his image? Isn’t that how he collects his $50 million a year in endorsement earnings?
The killer who is so vicious that he can’t let a single slight from his playing days go without retribution in speech or act has overseen some of the biggest messes in basketball. Start with his ugly management roles with the Wizards, his draft selections of losers such as Kwame Brown and his bad coaching choices. And now his neglect of an entire franchise likely has become the bottom of the abyss.
Back in 1972-73, the Philadelphia 76ers finished 9-73 for a record-worst .110 winning percentage. The Bobcats are 7-57 in this lockout-shortened season. If they lose their last two games and go 7-59, they’ll finish with a .106 winning percentage. Worst ever.
So, we must ask, who is Michael Jordan?
We know he’s a gambler, so is he tanking to guarantee a lottery ball?
Research shows the Bobcats have had nine lottery picks in eight years, including the No. 2, No. 3, No. 5, No. 7, No. 8, No. 9, No. 9,
No. 12 and No. 13 picks.
After all that, they have Derrick Brown at small forward, D.J. White at power forward and Gerald Henderson at shooting guard.
We know Jordan is a hedonist.
He golfs, skis, goes to resorts, smokes cigars and looks beautiful. But he seems to stand for nothing. No charities, no statements about world issues, no cares beyond himself, no strength of character, no using the astounding public platform he has.
Is his image bulletproof? Is the public so shallow that it will gawk at His Airness forever, even as his feet of clay turn to mud?
Remember when he was the star of the team with the greatest record ever, the 1995-96 Bulls, who finished the regular season 72-10 and blew through the playoffs with a 15-3 record? An 87-13 record in one year!
At their current rate, MJ’s Bobcats would need almost 13 years to win that many games.
It’s possible Jordan is a lost soul, uncertain about what to do in a world where his court skills don’t matter except for what they evoke. That’s a tough spot to be in, money be damned. Because how, unless you shed that old skin and pursue a new passion, do you find fulfillment and become anything other than what you once were?
It’s also possible Jordan just doesn’t care. His good times on the links and in the restaurants, skyboxes and gambling dens might be all he needs.
But owners own. And Jordan is a terrible owner.
Back in 1996, Jordan told me: ‘‘Look, I know I could score as many points as I want to score. If I decided to average 37 points a game, 40 points a game, and didn’t give a damn about wins or what this team does, I could do it. But I want to win. I want everybody to have that same feeling.’’