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How Jordan is stepping out of Bobcats basketball decisions

Sep 10, 2012, 6:06 PM EST

Michael Jordan AP

The Bobcats started out a mess under Michael Jordan, which was a problem because he took over a mess from the owner before him. And on the court last season, things did not look a lot better as they went 7-59.

But it was a mess for very Jordan reasons. And there should be legitimate hope things are changing because he is becoming a better manager and realizing what he can and can’t effectively do as an owner.

There’s a fascinating story in the current ESPN the Magazine by Ryan McGee about Charlotte. And it starts with why things didn’t change fast for Michael Jordan as an owner.

In both of those front office roles, Jordan at first was a constant contradiction, with ultraselective public appearances and a front office omnipresence that came and went in streaks. Both strategies became increasingly ineffective. He was criticized by fans, and most recently former head coach Sam Vincent, for not being around as much as they would like. He would swoop in each spring, largely inspired by what he had seen during the NCAA tournament, and reset the personnel chess pieces that his staff had spent all year, not just March, positioning for the NBA draft.

Any scout will tell you, what you see in the NCAA Tournament is the tip of an iceberg — it’s good to see top players against other quality players, but you need to see a player 50 times in games and practices (on tape and in person), not three or five.

Jordan learned that the hard way with picks like Kemba Walker (who could still pan out but hasn’t yet). He also learned the hard way his name was not enough in the free agent market to start drawing guys.

So Jordan started making moves — Rich Cho came in to take over the front office, Mike Dunlap got a shot as a rookie head coach and that was not an MJ hire. The Bobcats were making changes.

“Every single one of those moves is evidence that Michael is serious about getting out of the way,” a rival Eastern Conference GM says. “They are now going to succeed or fail with Rich. And I can guarantee you that Michael has made sure that Rich knows that.”

That same executive describes the 47-year-old Cho as a “Moneyball kind of guy,” respected around the league for his involvement in the construction of the rosters of both Portland and Oklahoma City. According to Cho, when he left his job as the Trail Blazers GM to come to Charlotte 15 months ago, his marching orders from Jordan were simple and specific — build through the draft and get free agents to complement the youngsters and put them over the top. The old Jordan, by his own admission, believed that if he cleared enough cap space, he could personally lure the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But as he learned last year, even “MJ” appearing on their caller IDs wasn’t enough to offset the lure of LA.

Go read the entire story.

For smaller markets like Charlotte, winning the free agent superstar game is the longest of shots. The only way you can get a superstar even to a middle-sized market like Miami (14th largest in the NBA) is with the promise of money and wins combined. Well, Miami has other advantages over Charlotte and other smaller markets that might draw young men, but without the wins and the money they can’t get people either.

How Charlotte has to build is the draft. And they need a little bit of luck.

Jordan is starting to act like an owner, one who sets the macro goals but lets other people handle the management of how to get there. Jordan’s image can go a long way toward healing the wounds previous Charlotte owners left in the city with the NBA. But nothing can do that like winning. Good young players they can buy into like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a start, but ultimately fans want real hope, then they want wins.

It’s the one thing Jordan certainly does understand.

  1. rajbais - Sep 10, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    “Any scout will tell you, what you see in the NCAA Tournament is the tip of an iceberg — it’s good to see top players against other quality players, but you need to see a player 50 times in games and practices (on tape and in person), not three or five.”

    The number of games worth watching combined with the practices is not even good enough to reach anywhere close to 50.

    50 times?????

    No wonder why the NBA wants the one-and-done rule gone!!! I am with them!!!!

    • somekat - Sep 10, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      IThe number of games worth watching combined with practives is not even good enough to reach 50? So you are telling me, in your tiny mind, taht college teams don’t practice 50 times a year? This would also include stuff like senior games, other tournaments, the old mcdonalds all-american tapes, etc.

      If you can’t find 50 tapes on a guy, the guy probably isn’t worth having.

      • rajbais - Sep 11, 2012 at 1:53 PM

        Practice is garbage!!!!

        The reserves can barely get on the floor!!!!

        I have a tiny mind???

        You’re the idiot because you are essentially equating practice to the game!!! NCAA reserves can barely get on the floor for a reason!!!! Let me see, watch a kid’s tape or watch him against scrubs????

        Games baby!!!! The scout should not have been quoted because you cannot even find competent ones in the NBA. Why are there so many bad teams????

        Charles Barkley is my hero and I agree with him when he says “I played in the NBA for 16 years and there were plenty of players that looked good at practice!!”

        This is not football where you have one set of players playing offense and the other players playing defense!!!

      • rajbais - Sep 11, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        @somekat

        Practice is garbage!!!!
        The reserves can barely get on the floor!!!!
        I have a tiny mind???

        You’re the idiot because you are essentially equating practice to the game!!! NCAA reserves can barely get on the floor for a reason!!!! Let me see, watch a kid’s tape or watch him against scrubs????
        Games baby!!!! The scout should not have been quoted because you cannot even find competent ones in the NBA. Why are there so many bad teams????

        Charles Barkley is my hero and I agree with him when he says “I played in the NBA for 16 years and there were plenty of players that looked good at practice!!”

        This is not football where you have one set of players playing offense and the other players playing defense!!! Scouting can be done in practices of that sport because of that!!!

        DO SOME RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SAY CRAP LIKE YOU JUST DID, JERK!!!

      • rajbais - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:06 PM

        Trusting a scout in the NBA is like trusting a used car salesman when you are trying to buy a used car!!! Used Car salesmen have bad names for a reason. It is because they’re not as sophisticated, well-established, or have well-developed facilities like more established dealers!!

        If you want to trust a guy for talent it is a well-established coach because they know who can really play and get onto the floor. The earlier you can contribute the better. If you can contribute early, you get a good idea on how to improve your game because even the best players in the league need to improve!!!

        Another quote from the great one, Charles Barkley: “you don’t get better sitting on the bench. You get a lot of money, but you don’t get better sitting on the bench.” That was from the 2000 NBA draft!!!!

        My God!!! I cannot believe that you fall for garbage that you’ve seen right now!!!

      • rajbais - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        @somekat

        Trusting a scout in the NBA is like trusting a used car salesman when you are trying to buy a used car!!! Used Car salesmen have bad names for a reason. It is because they’re not as sophisticated, well-established, or have well-developed facilities like more established dealers!!

        If you want to trust a guy for talent it is a well-established coach because they know who can really play and get onto the floor. The earlier you can contribute the better. If you can contribute early, you get a good idea on how to improve your game because even the best players in the league need to improve!!!

        Another quote from the great one, Charles Barkley: “you don’t get better sitting on the bench. You get a lot of money, but you don’t get better sitting on the bench.” That was from the 2000 NBA draft!!!!

        My God!!! I cannot believe that you fall for the garbage that you’ve seen right now!!!

      • rajbais - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        @somekat

        “If you can’t find 50 tapes on a guy, the guy probably isn’t worth having.”

        Oh yes!!! With all the one and done crap, 33 tapes minimum (1 per game because that is the typical length of a college season) is going to be a bad idea!!!!! ALWAYS!!!

        You better have at least 31 out of 33 great tapes, but it only happens when your name is Kevin Durant. The real issue, star like evaluation is given to crap players!!!

  2. nygdriveforfive - Sep 10, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Jordan could watch a guy play/ practice/eat/sleep 100 times and still draft Adam Morrison!. The guy is a horrible talent evaluator. A great player does not necessarly make a great gm. Not everybody can be Jerry West. Credit to Jordan though for getting out of the way of his ego and doing what is best for his franchise. I never thought he would do it.

  3. lakerluver - Sep 10, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    What took so long?!

    • eventhorizon04 - Sep 11, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      Pride.

      Not surprising that a guy like MJ required nearly decade of failed decisions to accept that maybe he’s not good at this.

  4. paulhargis53 - Sep 10, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    That’s what they said about you coming out of the closet lakerluver….

  5. jimbroney - Sep 10, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Great news for this colorado Rockies fan!!

  6. hatesycophants - Sep 10, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Are you media types still so piss-the-bed frightened of Jordan that you can’t just come out and say he has been an unadulterated failure as an executive and owner?

    • eventhorizon04 - Sep 11, 2012 at 1:31 AM

      “[The team] was a mess for very Jordan reasons. ”

      I dunno – it seems like basic reading comprehension to understand that the “media type” writing this blog post was clearly saying that Jordan was a failure by calling his team a “mess.”

  7. j0esixpack - Sep 10, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Damn… They would have been better running Patrick Swayze in Road House … That’s a bad movie yet one is compelled to watch because it’s so bad. It’s inexplicable but true.

  8. mrlaloosh - Sep 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    Jordan is a black George Shinn.

    • tcclark - Sep 10, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      George Shinn can dunk?

  9. 16x8equal49ers - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Remember what he did w/ the Wizards? nuff said, bad talent evaluator. Kwame Brown??? C’mon man.

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