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Oh, brother! Michael Jordan promotes Larry to Bobcats' Director of Player Personnel

Nepotism or purely a symbolic promotion?

Scott Halleran

Larry Jordan is Michael Jordan's brother. He's far less famous and far less recognizable. I can promise you that if you were to see him on the street, you would not give him a second look.

He was the Director of Special Projects, a position no one knew anything about nor cared about. Now he will soon be the Director of Player Personnel.

Of course, the logical leap to make here is that this is just another nepotistic move. Michael Jordan hired his brother. He hires many of his friends. Rod Higgins is one of those select few. Rod Higgins hired his son to play on the team he helps manage. Patrick Ewing is also a friend of Jordan's. His son is on the Bobcats' Summer League squad. Putting one and one together isn't hard. Nor is putting two and two together. Or three and three.

However, to be fair, Higgins and Ewing's sons are fringe level NBA talents, worthy of Summer League spots. Higgins had previously held been a general manager in Golden State and an assistant GM in Washington. Ewing was an assistant coach under Stan Van Gundy. These are hardly positions lacking credibility, but each having close relationships to Jordan has created a culture of nepotism or perception of a culture of nepotism in the Bobcats.

It should be noted that these things are not exclusive to the Bobcats. The Lakers' front office has a handful of Busses doing work and other organizations have the owner's family helping run business. This doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, but it's hardly anything novel.

Oh, and two of Jordan's children, Jeffrey and Jasmine, are reportedly involved in very minor roles in the organization, too.

Still, the promotion of Larry Jordan does little to ease concerns about Michael being stuck in his exclusive groove.

The Director of Special Projects is a job no one really knows much about outside those within the company. I don't know anything about it. But the Director of Player Personnel position is one with a bit more clout.

The previous person to hold that job was a man named Buzz Peterson. He was the 1981 North Carolina High School player of the year. He then went to play in Chapel Hill for Dean Smith.

He was also Michael Jordan's roommate. Michael Jordan was the best man at his wedding.

But Peterson was not a complete novice to basketball. He coached for years in the college ranks, elevating Appalachian State from a 14-14 record in his first season and no postseason play to their second NCAA Tournament appearance ever, and their first since 1979. They won three consecutive conference championships, during his first four years there. Then he bounced around to Tulsa and Tennessee and Coastal Carolina before being offered the Director of Player Personnel job in 2007, after Jordan had become the President of Basketball Operations and second-leading share owner in the team behind Bob Johnson.

Peterson left the team in 2009 and the team had not filled the position since.

By what I can only imagine has been the sheer grace of God, scouting and evaluating talent has managed to exist in the wake of Peterson's exit.

Larry Jordan doesn't have impressive stats or hefty years of experience under his belt like Peterson. He played professionally for the World Basketball League's only season in 1988. In the '90s, he owned a sportswear company with his father and later became a regional sales manager for Upper Deck. Both are a far cry from Director of Player Personnel, which evokes thoughts of directing scouting and talent evaluation for the Bobcats own players, talent on other teams, players in college and around the world.

Is it safe to jump to the conclusion that the position is the same as the Bobcats described it years ago for Peterson? The team's "top evaluator of on-court talent, both internally and externally, around the NBA and college ranks"? It's certainly scary to think Jordan could be promoted to such a level without much experience.

I'd hesitate to assume both jobs have the same responsibilities now, or that that previous description even held true then. The Bobcats have done without the position for years now. It doesn't make sense that they would suddenly heap such responsibilities upon Larry Jordan, who had not done similar work before.

But the Bobcats often don't make much sense. The one major and lasting move that seems to be the only remaining evidence of a change in modus operandi is Rich Cho's hiring. Cho's dismissal from Portland was reported to be based upon a lack of effusive subservience to owner Paul Allen. Cho's persistence in Charlotte flies in the face of such happening again. Reports out of Charlotte consistently detail Cho's extensive involvement and the discussions in the inner workings of the team's front office moves. Draft picks are often seen as a "Cho Pick" or a "Jordan Pick" because apparently there's no room for nuance or the idea that a group of people can come to agreements and make joint decisions.

Anyway, outside of Cho and vice chairman Curtis Polk, the perception is that Jordan has surrounded himself with yes men, friends or relatives.

If the Director of Player Personnel still is what the team described it to be, which is a position with the power of evaluating talent inside and outside the team, rather than a symbolic gesture, the Bobcats are taking odd steps. They're taking steps backward.

Larry Jordan making a leap from a business side position to a basketball operations side is a suspicious move regardless and does nothing to help the Bobcats' persistent nepotistic and laughingstock image but indicates Jordan staying in his old ways of keeping to who he knows.