Preface; As an NBA owner, Michael Jordan is arguably the most unfairly criticized in the NBA. It’s my belief that he’s an easy scapegoat due to his status as a former player. If he was simply another billionaire who got his riches by luckily being born in the 50s, most of us probably wouldn’t even know his name. Without Google, who owns the Sacramento Kings? Yea, exactly. Nonetheless, here we are, and for that, I want to start this article off by apologizing to Michael, because the ensuing article will add to that criticism. And while that’s not my intent, as a depressed Hornets fan, I’ve been moved to write this opinion piece.
*clears throat * Here goes…
Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest NBA player of all time and in most people’s eyes, he is the GOAT. So much so, that after 20 plus years removed from his playing days as a Chicago Bull, most of his records still remain in tact. Whenever a player reaches some sort of a milestone today and they show the others who’ve done it as well, about 87% of the time MJ’s name is one of the one’s mentioned (I made that number up, but you get the point). The way he made the Bulls a sure fire bet for the bulk of the 90s is something that the NBA has yet to see since. And as a result, many believe we will never see another player like him on the court again.
So why the hell has his success as a player not translated as an owner of the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets? I’ll tell you why…and it’s pretty damn simple. It’s because he’s not “all in the camera.” It’s because you rarely see him at games. It’s because he’s not using his status as perhaps the greatest of all time as a recruiting tool to get marquee players.
I get the narrative that Charlotte is a small market and players don’t want to come here, but a few metrics say otherwise.
When Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000 they were a sub .500 team that hadn’t been to the playoffs since the 1989-1990 season and were an after-thought for top free agents. Now some 20+ years later, the Mavericks are a destination for top free agents with yearly expectations of going to the Western Conference Finals. How did Cuban do it? When he became an owner he treated them better as a team. He treated them to five course dinners after losses, first class traveling and improved the gym. Could you imagine losing a game by 20 points and then eating caviar? Funny, right? But perhaps the most important thing he did was he make himself visible at games. He doesn’t sit in the press box or the owner’s suite with his billionaire friends, nor does sit front row at the games keeping other fans at bay. Instead, you can find him somewhere down in the lowers, sitting with the other fans in a t-shirt – giving the refs all types of hell. The fans love it and I’m sure the players see it and say ‘damn that guy actually wants us to win’. Given the team’s success since Cuban took over, I’d say players past and present responded to it.
Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones is old money. We know that. His pockets are deep…super deep. He can pay most top players whatever it is they want and not lose an ounce of sleep. And he does. Why? It’s most definitely not because of a chance to win the Super Bowl. In fact, I’m pretty sure my kids would have all graduated college before the Cowboys win another Super Bowl. In my opinion, Jerry Jones is able to attract top talent, because he’s able to keep his team relevant. Even though the Cowboys haven’t seen an NFC Title game since 1995, players constantly go there because, “it’s an honor to wear that star.” Think about it, have you honestly seen a player choose to go to Dallas and when asked why, they respond with, “a chance at a super bowl.” Hardly ever. Yet somehow top talent continues to go there. And it’s for reason Jerry is all in front of the camera. No matter how the previous season has gone or how the current season is going, Jerry keeps the Cowboys relevant and that’s a huge perk for players. Even in a down year, NFL fans will constantly get the Cowboy brand shoved down their throats through primetime, Monday Night and Thursday night football games. (Note: I wish the NFL would make the Cowboys play every game on Sundays at 1pm EST to see if the ratings would stay the same and make them play in Europe twice too). No matter how Dallas is doing players know they’ll find themselves on prime time, which means more exposure and bigger bucks.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying I want Jordan to attract top talent simply for more tv time. The hope would still be to win at a high level. I understand it’s his personality to remain behind the scenes and not be all in the camera, and to be honest, I respect it. However, it’s simply not working. It hasn’t worked. And considering how deep his pockets are relative to the other NBA owners, it’s probably not going to work. So it’s my belief that Jordan needs to change it up.
Mr Jordan, there’s absolutely no reason for ESPN to release the Last Dance documentary and then Hornets point guard Terry Rozier state that he had no idea you won back to back to back titles. Twice. He plays for you! NBA players should not be going online saying they had no idea you were like that! You played in the 90s, not the 70s. You’ve got to get out in front of the camera, Mike. Whether that means coming to more Hornets games and sitting court side, or doing interviews. It can only help. At the end of the day, the fanbase is tired, exhausted, depressed and stressed and it’s hard to even believe that there’s a clear path the team is on right now especially considering you guys just fired a coach who improved his record in each of the past two seasons…and we still need a big (sorry Mason, just being real).
Not sure if you’ll see this (pun intended), but something has got to give. Keep Buzzin
Depressed Hornets Fan