Thanks a million to Bobcats Director of Corporate Communications Michael Thompson for taking the time to answer our questions!
From JamieMcNeill on the forums: What types of changes can we anticipate being made once Michael Jordan becomes majority owner? Is it mostly staying status quo or does Mr. Jordan have many changes he would like to make?
MT: I think you’re going to see Mr. Jordan put his touch on every facet of this organization. Obviously the basketball team is already a product of his work and vision, but you’ll see changes in everything from our game presentation to the overall experience at the arena. Some changes will happen right away and some will take a little longer to implement. But this franchise will definitely be a reflection of him and what he’s about.
Teej: With the change in ownership, it’s been reported Bob Johnson is staying on as a minority partner. What does this entail for Mr. Johnson, both business wise and as a member of the Charlotte community?
Michael Thompson. It means he wants to continue to invest in the team that he founded. Let’s not forget the substantial financial commitment he has already made to this city and this business. None of what we’re enjoying this season – the wins, the playoff push, the All-Star appearance, the 20+ franchise records – would have been possible without his support. Now he’s in a position to provide support to Mr. Jordan as this franchise takes the next step.
From Polarcat on the forums: Is there any chance of the marketing and promotions becoming a bigger focus moving forward to help spread the Bobcats throughout the Carolinas and regain that buzz that Charlotte was known for? For example — Improved TV coverage, re-energizing Charlotte with murals on buildings (ala the Hornets in the late ’80′s), etc.
MT: Mr. Jordan has said that he wants to make the Bobcats a regional draw, but the television situation is not something we control. FSN South owns our broadcast rights, and they are working with every cable and satellite provider in North and South Carolina to carry our games. Unfortunately, not every cable and satellite provider is willing to carry our games, and that is a source of frustration for all of us.
It’s virtually impossible to replicate what Charlotte did for its very first professional sports team. The city has matured since then and the kind of blindly loyal support that team enjoyed simply by virtue of being first is not something we’ll ever experience – or want to experience. Mr. Jordan has said repeatedly that he wants to earn our way in this community. He doesn’t want it to be handed to us and he doesn’t want it just because he’s the owner. He’s focused – and he has every person in the organization focused – on earning the support of this community. When that happens then maybe you’ll start to see that outpouring of support from local businesses who want to do things like put giant murals of our players on the sides of their buildings. But we want to earn it first.
Teej: In the press conference today, Mr. Jordan said establishing a consistent winner was his goal, yet he’s also said multiple times that at the moment, going into the luxury tax is not viable for this team. With the current salary system, that would appear to tell fans one of either Tyrus Thomas or Raymond Felton will not be re-signed, and the team highly likely will not have any draft picks. How should fans expect the team to be a winner next year?
MT: Your question assumes there’s a correlation between paying the luxury tax and winning. Over the years a number of teams have done a remarkable job of managing the cap and putting a championship contender on the floor, and a few others have spent well past the tax only to end up in the lottery repeatedly. We’ve made huge strides as a basketball team over the past 2 seasons without exceeding the tax, and I think that trend will continue. If there’s one thing Mr. Jordan demonstrated as the Managing Member of Basketball Operations, it’s that he was open to any and all ideas that would make us better on the court. Look for that to continue as he relies on his senior management team and head coach to make recommendations before he makes the final decision.
Teej: Mr. Jordan said he was planning on being active in the Charlotte community, yet he also appears to want to stay away from the local and national media. Should fans expect to hear from Mr. Jordan often, or will he keep a behind the scenes role?
MT: Mr. Jordan said those words during a press conference carried live on 4 local TV stations, FOX Sports, NBATV and SportsCenter. That day alone he did individual interviews with FOX Sports Carolinas, ESPN and CNBC before sitting down with 2 reporters from the Observer, 1 from the Gaston Gazette, 1 from the Charlotte Business Journal and 1 from Associated Press. He did a question and answer with bobcats.com. He reached out directly to Season Ticket Holders through voicemail blasts and email, and appealed directly to this community through an open letter to Charlotte. Next up is the New York Times. I’m not sure that qualifies as staying away from the local and national media. And it’s worth noting that we’re only 12 days (as I write this) into his tenure as owner. You’re going to see him. You’re going to hear from him. He wants to hear from you. So when we reach out with surveys and questions of our own, it’s because he’s engaged and wants to know what you think.
Teej: Larry Brown has been rumored to both the 76ers and Clippers as a coach next season, yet MJ says he’d like Larry to stay. Is Larry in the franchise’s long term plan, and is the franchise in Larry’s?
MT: Mr. Jordan has said that Larry Brown is our coach for “as long as he wants to stay here”.
Teej: With the recent change in uniforms, would the team be allowed to change the name in the near future, and if so, how quickly would this happen if Mr. Jordan decides it’s worth doing?
MT: Mr. Jordan has said that he’s open to anything, and he is looking for feedback from fans on what they think about a wide range of issues including the team name. But it’s worth noting here that changing a team name is an extraordinary step that would take significant time and money, so it’s not something that can happen overnight.
NOTE: I asked Michael about the Bobcats use of analytics and on James Worthy, but as he is not a member of basketball operations he could not answer these for us.