Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan said that while the team is "in a rebuilding mode, he never anticipated a season where the team would finish last in the league, much less with what could be the worst winning percentage in NBA history," according to a front-page piece by Rick Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The Bobcats will clinch that dubious honor with a loss tonight against the Knicks, but Jordan insisted that this season's results "won’t dissuade him from the rebuilding plan that started with the trades of veterans Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson last season." Jordan said, "This was going to be a trying year -- we knew that. But did we want to chase the most Ping-Pong balls (in the May 30 draft lottery)? No way." Jordan also said, "My success will be judged differently. I’ve come to accept I’ll be scrutinized more than any other owner. I know now that I have to have a tough skin about these things." He added, "It’s absolutely wrong that I don’t want guys to challenge me. And the people who say that aren’t in the room. The idea that people can't do that is just wrong" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/26). Former Bobcats coach Larry Brown, who was fired by Jordan in December '10, during an interview yesterday with syndicated radio host Dan Patrick said of Jordan, "I love the guy, I think he’s brilliant, but he’s around people that don’t have a clue and they won’t challenge him. The more you challenge him the more you get from him." Brown added, "He has people around him that just made me sick. It was not comfortable. It was almost like they were spies, wondering what you were doing and getting back to him. I should have spent more time face-to-face with Michael because I do see a passion. I think he’s just hurt right now” ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/25).
THE INNER CIRCLE: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said, "The problem with Michael Jordan is that he won't fall back and hire the best basketball people and the best basketball minds. His whole thing is about insulating himself with people he trusts, who will protect, as opposed to people he knows can do the job" ("First Take," ESPN2, 4/25). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted former Chicago Tribune reporter Sam Smith told him that Jordan “likes people around him who are his cronies, who he dominates." Kornheiser: "So I think the criticism is valid.” However, ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "I know people who work for Michael and know how to tell him no and they’ve been around him a long time and have no problem doing that” ("PTI," ESPN, 4/25). Meanwhile, SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote Jordan "has been the worst kind of owner." Rosenberg: "He pays attention when he feels like it. He hires his cronies. ... He complains about the cost of doing business, like he thought he was buying a convenience store instead of an NBA team." Rosenberg added, "The Bobcats are worse than bad. They are cheap. They are boring." The Bobcats are "Jordan's Folly, proof that no matter who you are or how high you rise, at some point life will step on your head" (SI.com, 4/23).
BLACKHAWK DOWN: In Chicago, Rick Telander noted Jordan on Monday attended the Coyotes-Blackhawks Western Conference Quarterfinal Game Six "wearing a Blackhawks jersey" and standing with Hockey HOFers Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull. Telander wrote, "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. ... Jordan supposedly is all about winning. Isn’t that his image?" It is possible Jordan "just doesn’t care." Telander: "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" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/25). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said of Jordan's appearance at the Blackhawks game, "It looks terrible. When your team's in the middle of a franchise-record losing streak and you're a part-owner of the team, you should be there. If you're not there, you should certainly not be at another sport wearing another team's jersey" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/24). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said he was "stunned" to see Jordan at the Blackhawks game. Le Batard: "Charlotte is playing in Washington. Nobody wants to be at that game and they represent the two great failures on Michael Jordan's resume, the team he currently owns and the team that fired him so he flees the premises and goes closer to where his statue is" ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 4/24). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote Jordan "lost credibility by showing up in Chicago to watch the Blackhawks and the Cubs." It was a "horrendous PR move. If you're going on the road to watch a team, it ought to be yours" (CHARLOTTE.com, 4/25).
LOVABLE LOSERS? The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Sorensen wrote of the Bobcats, "I don’t find them amusing. They aren’t lovable the way some losing teams are. Players don’t do funny things on the court. They aren’t zany. They lack characters. They just lose." The Bobcats might "buy time if they change their name to the Hornets. But to win fans, they have to win games" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/25). ESPN's Doug Gottlieb said the Bobcats' performance is hurting Jordan's legacy because they were a "playoff team before he took ownership. They're now the worst team in league history." Jordan's post-playing career "will take away from his overall legacy. It's sure not helping his legacy" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 4/23).