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Michael Jordan states the owners case, likely to get fined

Aug 18, 2011, 12:11 PM EDT

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

If you thought as a former player Michael Jordan could be the bridge of sanity between the NBA owners and players, think again.

Jordan is the owner of one of the most financially challenged teams in the NBA in the Charlotte Bobcats. He’s one of those small market, heavily leveraged owners who need the system to change now. Those are your hawks, not your doves.

You can feel that in his comments to the Herald Sun of Australia — you can also feel the fine that is sure to follow for mentioning a player by name.

“The model we’ve been operating under is broken. We have 22 or 23 teams losing money, (so) I think we have gotta come to some kind of understanding in this partnership that we have to realign,” Jordan said.

“I can’t say so much … but I know the owners are not going to move off what we feel is very necessary for us to get a deal in place where we can co-exist as partners. We need a lot of financial support throughout the league as well as revenue sharing to keep this business afloat.

“We have stars like (Andrew) Bogut who are entitled to certain type of demands. But for us to be profitable in small markets, we have to be able to win ballgames and build a better basketball team.”

So there is the owners’ case — they need to control salaries but are masking it as trying to seek competitive balance. And Jordan comes off as a hawk, a hardliner. Which he may well be, the more changes to the system the more his Bobcats benefit.

As for the Bucks, they spent more money on salary last season than the Miami Heat did ($68.9 million to $66.7 million, granted the Bucks biggest earner was Michael Redd). It’s not about how much money you spend but how wisely you spend it.

  1. chargerdillon - Aug 18, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Jordan… were a great basketball player long ago. As somebody who’s not caught up in your hype I hope everybody realizes what a horribly poor owner MJ is and how bad he is for the NBA.

    Regardless how big or small your market is, you have to spend money to win games, and teams like the Bobcats that do their best to sell tickets with subpar talent are never going to compete with teams that consistently spend the money.

    The Bobcats are what the Padres are to baseball. A semi-pro ballclub in a pro league. Nothing will change as long as you have an owner out to make money without putting a successful product on the court.

    • ch4wordpress - Aug 18, 2011 at 1:58 PM


      MJ is not alone though. The problem is that the NBA is littered with economically poor clubs. Much like MLB and the NHL.
      the Bobcats, raptors, bucks, wolves, and etc. dont have the money and will never have the money to compete with the likes of NY, LA, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Boston and etc.

      The solution is for the NBA to change its total structure, two divisions based on economics.

    • iplaybingowitholdpeopleandwin - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      I agree with you to an extent. The NBA needs more parity. When talking professional teams, people will come out to support a winner. Revenue sharing, re-alignment, etc are likely going to be the best way to bring about such a change. You shouldn’t spend money you don’t have – it’s a poor business model.

      Also, baseball’s model is broken. Teams like the Royals are effectively farm teams for the rest of the MLB, especially the Yankee’s and Red Sox.

      • genericcommenter - Aug 18, 2011 at 9:53 PM

        Teams like the Royals must not be hurting for money too much if they can sign guys like Jeff Francoeur to contract extensions, and they also sign their share of Yankees castoffs. How many below average Royals players are being signed by the Yankees and Sox? None. If anything the Yankees are the farm system, as they refuse to overpay below average players or hold on to overrated prospects, who then become overpaid regulars for teams like the Royals and Pirates.

  2. trbowman - Aug 18, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Go MJ.

  3. savocabol1 - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    I fail to see what is wrong with MJ said. If you have issue with him naming a player’s name, wasn’t this article printed in an Austrailian newspaper? If I am not mistaken Bogut is the only Austrailian bball player in the league (or at least the only one that is popular). MJ was just simply relating to the audience of the newspaper.

    You media people are insane. Just trying to villify anyone that opens their mouths about anything during this lockout.

    • ch4wordpress - Aug 18, 2011 at 8:27 PM

      good point, but the problem is that an owner of a club basically admitted the NBA, NHL, MLB’s problem. Only the NFL has each club in the billion dollar club, the rest of the leagues are ranked mostly with clubs that just dont have the money or the market to compete, but want to compete and get the fans ire when they cant deliver in their poverty. Economic divisions would handle that problem .

  4. florida727 - Aug 18, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    “It’s not about how much money you spend but how wisely you spend it.” Last sentence in Kurt’s article. Every post thereafter should begin with this sentence… because it’s accurate and sums up the entire problem ALL sports franchises face. There is not one single team, including the successful ones, in ANY sport, that cannot cite an instance where a player or players were paid far more than their worth. Those ridiculous overpayments are what hurt their ability to field competitive teams. Long term contracts are killing sports. Some athletes are getting paid millions of dollars several YEARS after they’ve played their last competitive game. Why? They’re an albatross around the collective necks of the teams, and by extension, their respective sports.

    • ch4wordpress - Aug 18, 2011 at 8:40 PM

      the problem isnt the athletes pay, if you want me to work for you and I ask for a certain fee and you say no then you say no, if you say yes, that is your fault. The clubs need management, that is the big problem with these discussions. No one wants to admit,the clubs need the management. Owners cant be allowed to make gambles if they dont have the money. If clubs have the money, let them gamble, if they dont, dont let them, it seems so simple.

      Everyone wants players as potential employers to these clubs to be restricted but not the owners. Why can’t owners be restrcited, if it is the checks you want in check, then bind the people who have to sign them, dont bind the people who have the RIGHT to ask for whatever salary they want.

      • florida727 - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:26 AM

        “ch4”, if I read your post correctly, I think we’re somewhat saying the same thing. I do not begrudge a player trying to get what he can. That’s human nature, and it’s especially true in the arena of professional sports where their window of earning is smaller than most ordinary employees (albeit at a typically far higher annual pay rate). You’re absolutely right in saying if I (to use your example) say ‘yes’ to your salary demand/request, then I’m the one to blame if it all goes south.

        The thing I could never wrap my arms around is why pro sports teams insist on paying athletes based on PAST performance. Use it as an indicator/predictor of future potential? Sure. But why not smaller base salaries, and incentive-laden contracts based on what they actually ACCOMPLISH for the timeframe they’re hired for? If you’re a scorer, thresholds translate to kickers that amount to “x”. If you’re a defender, the points your opponent scores determines your bonuses, etc. If you’re the clean-up hitter, we have a formula that determines how successful you were when the guys ahead of you in the batting order got into scoring position, which, by the way, is in their contracts as incentives for how THEY get paid more. You get the idea.

        Just because I averaged 27-points-per-game last year, or hit .330 last year, or had 16 interceptions over the past 2 seasons, that doesn’t mean I’m going to produce those numbers again… for YOUR benefit, Mr. Owner.

        There’s a reason why they call them “incentives”.

    • ch4wordpress - Aug 20, 2011 at 11:27 AM

      Sports clubs insist on paying straight up because it is a bidding war. If you and I both own a club and we have total freedom in how we hire, like in the NBA for example, who will the athletes go for?
      You will have a base salary and then have an incentive laden contract which actually allows the players to make more.
      My offer will be straight money. the players will go for mine. Now, that isnt the problem, but what happens if I win the NBA playoffs and you dont?
      That is why I have been saying we need a league based on economic divisions.
      If the big teams in the NBA were allowed to offer salaries my way or any way they choose with thier greater money and the smaller clubs were FORCED to do it your way, the NBA would be set to right.
      The problem is, big and small owners want total freedom in their financial operations, and leagues are worried that owners will drop out if they dont have total freedom.
      But, the reality is, smaller clubs need restrictions on what they can offer players this would solve all the money issues, now this doesnt mean that parity will exist but parity is a myth anyway.
      no league of any sport in the world has real parity. Every league has a few clubs who have won a lot when you look deeper.

  5. flionlion - Aug 18, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    Can’t believe how much this site is in the bag for the players.

    Listen Helin…the league is broken plain and simple. If you weren’t such a fan and tried to use some journalistic integrity you would see that.

    At least try to be objective from time to time.

    Sure, maybe 20-22 teams aren’t losing money but even if that number is closer to 10 that’s still 10 too many. Heck 5 is too many because that means 100’s of jobs (players and staff) will be lost if those teams call it quits.

    The NFL model isn’t perfect for the NBA but a salary cap, non-guaranteed contracts and a franchise tag are a must.

    The argument that owners simply shouldn’t award big contracts is horribly flawed as well. First of all, the owners sign off on deals but it’s the GM’s who negotiate them and a good example of this is Otis Smith. Smith is one of the better respected and smartest GM’s in the league yet he is responsible for terrible contracts (Rashard Lewis) and trades (Arenas and Turkgolu) simply because of his attempt to appease and keep their best player in Orlando. If he didn’t give Lewis a max deal the new arena might not have been constructed and Howard may have already forced his way out of town leaving Orlando (a small market) with a sub par team for years to come and possibly endangering the future of the franchise.

    I could go on and on and probably will in future posts with how wrong the players are with their current position but for now I would settle for an objective article from this site instead of yet another Kobe puff piece.

    • ch4wordpress - Aug 20, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      @flionlion, the problem is how much money miami made last year , big market , big contracts is the way to make the most money, the larger clubs dont want to waste that, and the players realize if they accept what the smaller club owners want, they will be forced to accept smaller contracts and remain in smaller cities, in their golden years, losing big money in the global advertising market.

      what about two divisions?
      one division for big clubs who can afford to pay big and another for smaller clubs. Put owners in different situations, dont restrict what players can ask for, restrict what owners can offer.

  6. stoutfiles - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    The real problem is players want to play for big market teams to support their off-court merchandising.

    How about the NBA stop showcasing the Lakers/Celtics/Knicks/Bulls/Heat and show the other teams more? Players will stick around, as it is they’re taking less money to go to big markets because they’ll make more in the big picture.

    • ch4wordpress - Aug 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM

      exaclty, but that is the way it should be. toronto, cleveland, anywhere in minnesota will never be a chicago, new york, los angeles, miami, boston, big cities are just that.

      How can you show smaller market teams more when their populations are so tiny?

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