Link dump. Rick Bonnell is sticking to basketball operations and decisions, but other Observer writers are chiming in on Michael Jordan's announced purchase of the Bobcats and taking the opportunity to... tell him to buy a house in Charlotte. No, really.
Although Michael grew up in North Carolina, he moves in an orbit most of us can't fathom, an orbit that is peculiarly his. So maybe I'm being small-town here. But he ought to live among us. In and around Charlotte there are more than 100 houses for sale in the $1million range. Deals are available. Realtors are standing by.
Because buying a house here in Charlotte is a sign he's committed to helping provide a winning product on the floor. Huh. Actually, what that might say is that the owner is committed to making the populace feel better about themselves, which he could also do by putting a winning product on the floor, in which case they wouldn't give a damn in which county or state he sleeps.
Jordan doesn't have to live in Charlotte - although it sure would help - but he does need to open himself up more and allow some transparency to seep into his legendary cloak of privacy. Events like the one in which he wowed some Bobcats season ticket-holders in 2009 at a one-day fantasy basketball camp need to happen more often and be open to everyone...
He needs to spend money. He needs to cheerlead. Most of all, he needs to make the average fan believe that things can be different.
Again, this obsession with insisting the local sports team's owner make the average fan feel like he's a part of the family is hokey and borders on ludicrous to those of us who grew up elsewhere, in cultures where the expectation is that the owner provide the right environment for us to feel a part of the tribe, not embody the tribe himself or herself.
Jerry Richardson might be a fantastically personable guy, the kind of man you'd want manning your grill on a summer afternoon in your back yard, but that's not what makes him a good owner of a pro sports team. He's a good owner because he's put in place management that's brought the Panthers to the NFC Championship game three times in a ten year span, and the Super Bowl once. But if you'd tried to tell everyone how good an owner he was in 2001, you'd have been laughed at.
Ultimately, all this talk about community outreach and gladhanding and making people feel like they're cared about is totally irrelevant. It's a crutch, because there's no measure for it and there's no real accountability for the accusation; everyone's standards are different, so how much personal involvement with the community is enough? At what point will the owner be spending too much time on PR and not enough time working to make the actual team better?
When the team wins, more people will come. When the team goes a decade without an embarrassing season, more people will come. When children discover the Bobcats on their own as toddlers, and then grow up being fans of the team and dream of bringing their children to games, more people will come.