In the Carolinas, much of the basketball discussion has drifted from NCAA tournament glory for the Tar Heels, NBA playoff failure for the Cavs, and the rise of Dwight Howard, to the revalation that the much maligned Bob Johnson is selling his majority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats. On the message boards for Rick Bonnell’s Inside the NBA, which is normally a rat’s nest of complaints, there was a joy like I have never seen before. Nearly everyone on Bobcatsplanet seemed shocked with excitement. About the only person who isn’t on Cloud 9 is our beloved coach, Larry Brown, who is worried the next owners might cut out Michael Jordan. But what if, just what if the next ownership group was led by Michael Jordan? That’s where the title comes into play here.
When Mark Cuban took over the Dallas Mavericks in 2000, they hadn’t had a winning season since 1989-1990 and acheived their first playoff berth in 11 years. He created a party atmosphere at the team’s arena, and became the most hands-on owner in all of sports. While he was initially rejected, he has done more for basketball since coming into the legue than any other owner, and probably more than David Stern. He listened to fans suggestions and improved the fan experience, making his team one of the most visible not only in the NBA, but in all of sports. When one thinks of Dallas sports, behind the obvious Cowboys, the Mavs are right there. Before Cuban took over, they were just an afterthought, much like the Bobcats are today. He put them into the forefront of playoff discussion every year, and they’ve made the playoffs the last 9 years, each season Cuban has been there. He has marketed his star Dirk Nowitzki, and when he lost semi-star Steve Nash, he quickly eliminated any backlash through his blog by telling the whole truth and nothing but it. While some would argue his brash style and multitude of incidents (which has him holding the record for fines in NBA history) is what caused the horrible officiating in the Heat-Mavs finals, considering what he did to get his team there I don’t think you can complain too much if you’re a Dallas fan. His twitter, mcuban, has a huge following and he has casual fans watching his team’s games just because he’s Mark Cuban.
There are some eerie similarities in this storyline. If MJ were to buy the Bobcats, the team would have the same take-charge style owner who isn’t afraid to get down on the first row and scream at the officials with every word in the book (which any Bobcats fan will tell you has happened more than once). This team has the pieces to make the playoffs this coming year, and with a little help could go farther than anyone outside of the Charlotte metro area expects. MJ would likely bring back the Hornets-style atmosphere that many long for where the season ticket holders know each other and walk-up single game tickets are a rarity. MJ brings credibility within the local area, and his drive to win is unparalled in anyone I’ve ever seen in sports. I can only compare it to Peyton Manning, and it’s better than that. He is the only person I know who took being inducted to the Hall of Fame as a slight, and becoming an owner would likely reignite that fire, especially with his good friend Larry Brown on the bench. He’d put the Bobcats right up next to the Panthers, he’d make sure their tv deal got fixed, and I doubt Larry brown would have to complain about bad officiating anymore. At least, that’s if MJ is the same guy I remember. I don’t know if he is, but if he’s anything close to the guy Larry Brown says he is, then this team needs him in the worst way. He has good relationships with most if not all of the players, and he could likely save the team a few bucks in contract negotiations just like Cuban has.
Now I don’t know how much money he has, or if the rumor about him putting a $250 million dollar offer in is true, but if it is, then I’m begging Bob Johnson to accept it and cut his losses. Or to go golfing with MJ, and we can give Bob some kids clubs. Just as long as MJ gets the team, because I can’t think of anyone else who would take this team where it needs to be right now. But as always, I’m open to suggestions.