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Michael Jordan no fan of teams tanking for picks

Nov 1, 2013, 3:49 PM EDT

Michael Jordan AP

While most of us expected them to (which in their case meant stay the course), the Charlotte Bobcats are not playing the organizational tanking, the “riggin’ for Wiggins” game this year.

Make no mistake, the Bobcats are not going to be good, they are lottery bound, but this past summer went out and paid big money for Al Jefferson to make themselves better. This year’s Bobcats (soon to be Hornets) are better than a year ago by a long shot.

It seemed an odd time for the Bobcats to land the biggest free agent in franchise history — they got better in the year that is supposed to be the best, deepest draft in a decade. Most thought Charlotte would be in the Wiggins chase as well.

The reason they are not all in on that plan is owner Michael Jordan doesn’t believe in tanking for picks, he told the Associated Press.

“I don’t know if some teams have thought of that. That’s not something that we would do. I don’t believe in that.”

He then laughed heartily and said, “If that was my intention I never would have paid (free agent) Al Jefferson $13 million a year.”

Just so you know MJ, other teams have thought of that — not only is it pretty obvious by their actions in places such as Philadelphia and Phoenix, there is a GM that anonymously told ESPN this was his plan.

Charlotte is not as far out of that mix as you might think — Jefferson and the growth of players such as Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gillchrist should improve the Bobcats by 10-13 games (their defense will still be terrible, holding them back). If they do improve by 13 games, that is still just 34 wins and a ticket to the lottery. Not as big a ticket, not as many chances, but they will get chances.

And in this deep draft, if they are in the Top 10 they should get a player that will really help them.

  1. mjhutmkr - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    No league integrity despite Stern’s best efforts.

    • money2long - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      i wonder if it’s possible for stern to try and fine a team for apparent tanking. i mean, like it was so blatant that the coach was trying NOT to win the game…suspect rotations, bad plays, etc. i wonder if stern could do something if a team makes it painstakingly glaring of an attempt to throw games.

      • redbaronx - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        @money2long – I was listening to Lavar and Dukes show on WFAN a couple of days ago. I heard an idea that SOUNDED good. Creating a 1st tier/2nd tier league like they do in Europe. That way if a team tanks, they go down to the 2nd tier league.

        I’m not sure everyone would like that idea, but I think it has some merit. Plus it makes it more interesting/competitive for teams looking to get promoted to the 1st Division.

        The problem with that idea is how do you determine the Draft in that case. Does the worst team in the 2nd Division get the top pick and then in order by losing teams?

        It might be interesting for the NBA to think up some new ways of organizing the league. It worked for MLB when they brought in the Wild Card concept.

      • money2long - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:15 PM

        sounds complicated lol but all ideas should be considered .

  2. sgtr0c - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Whether the gm’s say it or not, they do not play on the court. The players do, and coachs coach on the court. The gm’s watch, and even they wanted to fire someone for winning, they cannot during the season. Hire whoever you want for looks MJ, will the Bobcats beat the Heat this season after falling behind? Just saying

  3. 950003cups - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Tanking would require a lot more than one owner. The GM and some other front office figures would have to be in on the scam. It’s sad because in the end, the fans get the shaft. All the fans. Fans of every team. Every team does have a tank plan in place as a Plan B. The league can’t stop it. If the league made an example, you would have a hard time finding owners.

    • Anoesis - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      All it would take is an owner unwilling to open the checkbook. Or a GM unwilling to pull the trigger on any trade that might improve the team. Ideally, an owner and GM on the same page could pull it off easily enough.

  4. kb2408 - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    I am also not in favor of the games best player taking his talents to minor league baseball right in the middle of possibly going for 8 straight championships. Houston should retire MJ’s jersey…without him they would still be searching for the franchises first title.

    • redbaronx - Nov 3, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      kb2408 – It’s impossible to know what “would” have happened for sure when Michael took his 1.5 year sabbatical for baseball, but I doubt that Michael and the Bulls would have won. Michael didn’t seem like he was in the frame of mind to play after his father got killed. While the Bulls were pretty strong in 94 and still nearly made the Finals, I get the sense that he would not have had the edge that he did.

      Then there’s also the issue of retooling as vet Bulls retired or were not up to scratch. 94/95 there was a lot of changeover where vets went out and new guys came in. Bill Cartwright, B.J. Armstrong, Darrell Armstrong, Will Perdue, John Paxson. A lot of those role players were critical and retired in that 2 year period. Or traded like Horace Grant to the Magic.

      Assuming that the Bulls would have won 8 straight is far from certain. It took them a good two years to get guys like Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, John Salley.

      And Houston was no pushover either. Even more in the 2nd banner they won when supposedly they weren’t supposed to compete for a title as a 5 seed. That team was LOADED. They had some great players like Clyde Drexler, Kenny Smith, Sam Cassell, Mario Ellie, Otis Thorpe, Tracy Murray, Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry, and lets not forget Hakeem Olajuwon. So even if the Bulls had Michael at full strength for a full year in 94/95 and got past the Magic, I’m not sure they would have beat Houston.

  5. saintsfire - Nov 1, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    barkley had it right when he said Jordan is awful as front office

    it’s like the Marino years good but not good enough, all those years of bad draft position, from playing over .500 The teams that qualified for the playoffs year in and year out got the shaft.

    I always thought that a team that had a winning record or made the playoffs 5 years in a row or 10 years in a row without a making the final round should get a commissioners exemption and lottery shot with the perennial stinkers.

    • redbaronx - Nov 3, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      @saintsfire – I rather like that idea. A team like Portland or Denver that makes the playoffs consistently without making the Finals would fall into that category.

      I’m from DC and we loved having MJ as a player, but you’re absolutely right about MJ the front office executive. When he was here in DC he did everything by phone from Chicago. GM isn’t a remote controlled job and MJ didn’t put “GM” at the top of his priorities when he was here between golfing and his other interests.

      I don’t know what goes on in Charlotte and how much time he spends, but all I know is that it seems like Charlotte can’t do anything right. This year should be a good indicator. He’s had some decent draft positions, made some decent selections and his front office decision making seems to be better.

      We’ll see….

  6. saintsfire - Nov 1, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    that way the teams that COMPETE get rewarded for COMPETING
    instead of the shaft and watching
    the same stinkaroo teams get the #1 lottery every year rewarding incompetence

    it’s doggone sports welfare and some teams never get off it

    at least reward the competitors for their efforts every now and then

  7. universalseeder305 - Nov 1, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    Didn’t the Bulls suck except for Jordan and thats how they drafted Pippen?

    • davidly - Nov 2, 2013 at 5:20 AM

      Depends on what the meaning of the word “suck” is. They had Oakley and Paxson and played .500 ball and made the playoffs, which ain’t tanking, which is what the thread is about.

      Anyway, Seattle drafted Pippen, though, theoretically, you might say that the Chicago drafted him, in that Jerry Krause wanted him (this is his claim to fame numero uno*) so he lured away the Sonic’s number five with the Bulls’ number eight and future picks. The fifth and eighth picks are not exactly what one gets for tanking.

      *The next being drafting Grant and trading Oakley for Cartright, and the coup de gras being his promotion of Jackson/Winter to the head coaching position to make best use of Jordan’s ball domination in a no-true-point offense.

    • redbaronx - Nov 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      @universalseeder305 – The Bulls didn’t suck, but they weren’t very good either. There were just some really strong teams in the East in that era like Boston, New York, Cleveland, and the Hawks. The Bulls traded Olden Polynice (C) to the Sonics for Pippen using the logic that with Bill Cartwright they didn’t need a young, inexperienced center with a visible development ceiling, and would be better off with developing Pippen at Small Forward for two reasons 1) He had a lot of potential. 2) They didn’t have anyone at Small Forward.

      When MJ came on board Chicago was in transition, and they made smart moves like trading Charles Oakley (PF) for Bill Cartwright (C), which was pretty unpopular with Chicago fans at the time, but the Bulls needed a center and they had drafted Horace Grant (PF), so trading Oakley for a decent center helped Chicago deal with teams like the Knicks, Cavs, Boston, and Detroit who all were strong at the Center spot. In the 80’s if you didn’t have a good center, you were sunk as far as playoff hopes.

  8. valeb2012 - Nov 1, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Here’s a novel idea: shorten rookie contracts AND THEN give the most lottery balls to the winningest teams. That should fix the tanking problem right up.

  9. cflip376 - Nov 1, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    No one is tanking, players and coaches don’t want to lose, it just that there too young, inexperience, and overall bad to do anything about it. It’s dumb to come up w/ systems that punish them.

    • redbaronx - Nov 3, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      @cflip376 – Players and coaches don’t want to lose, but management teams make the decisions, and sometimes the decision is to tank. This goes back to the old days when the lottery was in inverse order and the team with the worst record in the NBA picked first. When teams don’t have the building blocks, that’s what they do. Seattle was pretty good with Ray Allen in the 2000’s but they weren’t going anywhere and traded Ray to Boston and dismantled the team. That’s why Seattle/OKC had a couple of lousy seasons and then all those good draft picks to get where they are today.

      • cflip376 - Nov 3, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        I agree with a lot of what you said, but I am part of the crowd that doesn’t view tanking as the same as rebuilding.

      • redbaronx - Nov 3, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        cflip376 – Whatever word you want to use, it’s still management shedding contracts and assets to compete in the future rather than the present.

  10. redbaronx - Nov 2, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Just a general comment for people (I want to see what people think on here)

    Would you be for or against a 2 Division NBA where the losing 3 teams go down a division every year, and the top 3 in the 2nd Division get promoted to the 1st Division? Prospectively the Draft would be in inverse order where worst team in the 2nd Division would get the top pick in the Draft.

    (I know some people will comment about TV rights. Lets leave that out for the moment)


    • davidly - Nov 3, 2013 at 2:37 AM

      Thought provoking and I like it. I know in soccer, at least, fans get pretty excited when their team manages to climb back into the first division–or, indeed, get there for the first time. What would have been an otherwise dismal season becomes something for the fans to look forward to.

      • redbaronx - Nov 3, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        @davidly – My thoughts exactly about the fan base. It’s hard to see your team losing every year. With the whole promotion dynamic, that can be something to look forward to.

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