I suppose it's on the awesome side of the spectrum when our team's owner is in the news more than any of the players, and he's there specifically so that the writer -- or he, himself -- can point out how awesome he was, is, and always will be.
From everything we know about him, he's probably speaking his truth right now, but it's just a little unfair to say he wouldn't have done something similar, given the same opportunity. First of all, Magic and Larry were well past their primes by the time Jordan won his first title. Second, MJ's six titles all came with a top-five player as his sidekick in Scottie Pippen, and the last three featured a should-be Hall of Famer in Dennis Rodman, so, for all his greatness, he never won a championship alone the way LeBron James was asked to do in Cleveland.
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team,''' Jordan said...
The implication is that Jordan wanted to beat the best, not just be the best, but I strongly suspect that if he could have gotten someone like Hakeem or Ewing or Robinson to join him and Scottie, he absolutely would have pushed for it. This is the same man who cheated at cards when playing with a UNC teammate's mother. If anything, it sounds to me like he would have stacked the deck in his own favor if given the chance and would have tried to go undefeated.
Don't get me wrong, I love that our team's owner has that mentality, but it comes off as kind of petty to speak ill of James's decision so bluntly, especially when he played a role in making it happen.
Riley really put the plan into action last November. During a Cavs visit to Miami, Riley arranged a get together with Michael Jordan and James. Jordan, who was in town to do some Nike work with Wade, at the time did not own a majority of the Bobcats.
During the meeting, Riley talked to James about how more modern players should pay homage to Jordan. Riley always had led this effort, retiring Jordan's No. 23 in the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena even though Jordan never played in Miami.
The Cavs knew about it, and while it seemed like it could be classic tampering, they decided not to make an issue of it -- mostly because the meeting technically wasn't about free agency.
It was controversial and got headlines. Riley probably didn't care so much about the statement but how his conversation obviously influenced James. It likely gave Riley confidence that he could win James over by playing to his emotions when it came time for free agency. Riley became more dedicated than ever before to trying his grand plan of getting all three stars to South Florida, with poaching James being the grand prize.
UPDATE: Kelly Dwyer also posted on this topic today, at BDL.