...there comes word that Jordan has taken the most unexpected turn of all during the past year: In order to win basketball games, Michael Jordan has removed himself from the equation. He's promised his front office staff that he'll let them do their jobs without his shadow looming over their war-room marker boards. More unlikely still, he's handed over the reins of the Bobcats to a next-generation GM, armed with high-level metrics, to do for Charlotte what he helped do for Oklahoma City -- and in doing so, salvage Jordan's flagging basketball reputation.
Wow! Just imagine if someone had written an article about some kind of seemingly quiet evolution of Michael Jordan, say about six months ago!
Anyway, apparently this snippet of a new ESPN Magazine profile of Michael Jordan has caught some people off guard. It's pretty clear why: everyone has been so used to deriding Jordan as directly responsible for every single move the Bobcats have made since his arrival in the organization, they've been unwilling to admit that perhaps the decisions of others were, at the least, partially responsible.
Now all that is cast in doubt with this word from Ryan McGee's source that apparently Jordan has "promised" to not be some kind of dark force of evil looming about the offices of Time Warner Cable Arena. All this treats Jordan as some sort of puppetmaster tyrant, which I've never bought into. And it's written as though this is some kind of recent, sudden development in the Bobcats front office.
Every team owner faces scrutiny, but no owner attracts as much national scrutiny as Michael Jordan. Expectations demand he produce teams as great as the ones he played for. And I have never seen roster decisions heaped onto any owner like critics do with him. That's not to say he is not without blame and is not responsible for the craptacular team that we saw last year. Every owner is at least partially responsible for their product and weighs in on decisions the team faces.
However, a vast majority of the common fans are blind to the fact that the Bobcats actually do have a GM and the assumed and perceived modus operandi of some kind of tyrannical Michael Jordan does not match what is currently going on in the organization. Jordan can be hard-headed, but he has not made decisions in a vacuum. Others are involved in the decision-making process and he is open to other opinions, which is why the following bit from the ESPN piece mystified me.
His plotting was ultimately executed -- many use the word "endured" -- by then-general manager and former Bulls teammate Rod Higgins and then-head coach and fellow UNC alum Larry Brown.
Wait, what? If anything, those Bobcats teams were plotted by Larry Brown's constant yearning for "Larry Brown players," aka guys who could defend multiple positions. That whole 2008 draft was Brown's draft. So many trades during that era were to satiate him, not Jordan, though I'm sure Jordan had input into it. But while being an enabler for Brown was bad, he did not make those moves by himself as McGee characterizes them.
Thankfully, Michael Jordan has moved in a brighter direction since his move to majority owner. Rich Cho was hired for a reason. Cho has said Jordan trusts in his vision and willingness to bring advanced techniques and technological advances into the Bobcats' front office. Otherwise, he wouldn't be here. Cho's shown in Portland he has no desire to succumb to an owner's whim or meddling. The Bobcats are still on their path to rebuilding through youth and with the Ben Gordon trade, it's unlikely they'll be derailed by some insidious plot from some looming Michael Jordan who forces the Bobcats to trade draft picks for candy corn.
Yes, Michael Jordan is not the same front office decision-maker he once was, but it's not like he just decided to turn over power to Rich Cho one day and tell everyone over the PA that he would no longer be stalking their every move, as much as people would like to think he did.
But people hate to think Michael Jordan can be a rational, collaborative owner at times. After all, that would mean treating him like most other owners.
Also, Ryan McGee: the Bobcats never made the playoffs with Jason Richardson.
Attendance was solid, thanks to a handful of not-great-but-nonetheless-beloved franchise anchors in floor-diving Gerald Wallace, deep threat Jason Richardson and fellow UNC alum Raymond Felton; the scrappy squad had just squeezed into the playoffs for the first time.