It is not an uncommon thing for former players to try and step into the front office or become coaches when their playing days are done; few have been in a position like Jordan and able to simply buy the front office and everything else. While having his Airness affiliated with the team it remains to be seen whether he can actually succeed in basketball without playing.
If there was a scenario that will give Jordan the opportunity it is the Charlotte Bobcats. The young franchise is fresh off its first winning season and playoff berth, but since being founded by Robert Johnson back in 2004 it has not been the most successful from a business standpoint.
Johnson forked over the hefty $300 million price tag to start the team likely thinking like many that he can’t go wrong with owning a professional sports franchise. Ask him now after footing the bill for the team the last six years at a significant loss and he will likely say something very different.
In comes Michael Jordan as the new majority owner of the franchise. With the Bobcats he does have a young team full of talent and potential, but not the best business model; it was in fact dubbed the worst in the NBA in regards to how they are positioned for the future. So when it comes to a guy whose most notable moves as an executive were two of the biggest mistakes in NBA draft history (Kwame Brown in 2001 for the Washington Wizards and Adam Morrison in 2006 for the Bobcats) should the fan base get excited?
I would have to say yes. During his playing days he showed that he is one of the fiercest competitors in the game, never willing to except defeat. After getting fired by Abe Pollin from the Wizards in 2003 this guy has to be feeling the sting that comes with the perception of failure inherent with being fired. When you have done things at the level that he has for as long as he has failure is not acceptable. In the Bobcats he has the perfect opportunity to find the redemption that he most likely seeks.
So far Jordan’s second foray into the front office has been much better. He has been involved with the team as its managing member of basketball operations, and while Morrison was not much of a pick, along with Larry Brown the Bobcats have become a pretty tough team. Last season they were even ranked as the best defense in the NBA.
According to reports the team is getting on better financial ground as well with 40 new corporate sponsors just in the last 15 months. More fans are buying season tickets and even more are renewing theirs showing that the fans are behind the team and believe in where it is going.
Of course it has not been all sunshine and roses; no business partnership ever is. I have to say that I think Jordan pulling away from much of the promotional side of things more is a good idea. The people need to be falling in love with the players on the court, not the old guy with lots of money and really great seats on the court. Doing so will probably keep his mind where it should be, on running the team.
So far I for one would have to say so good for MJ. The Bobcats are a solid and up and coming young team, but to remain on top once they get there they need a solid, stable owner and business team behind them. Jordan is going to make more mistakes, but I think the difference this time will come in the emotional attachment he has to North Carolina (go Tar Heels!). In Washington it was all about business; this time it isn’t, and that will be the difference for him in this comeback.