In light of things brought up in Zach Lowe's latest article on the Charlotte Hornets, I felt the need to opine to our owner and fearless leader. So, without further ado...
Dear Michael Jordan,
We need to have a talk.
I'm worried about the future of this team, because things are looking all too familiar.
Remember when you bought the franchise? Remember that orange and blue fuzzball of a team? The Charlotte Bobcats were coming off their best season in franchise history, making finally reached the playoffs after five years of being the joke of the National Basketball Association. They had Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson, with Larry Brown at the helm. It was a good team, but not a great team. Not a team that could, as you said when you took over, compete for a top four seed in the East.
I am afraid that is exactly what you are re-building right now — a team that can, if everything goes perfect for them, finish in the top six in the East and (more than likely) lose in the first round of the playoffs.You are dooming this franchise and this city to NBA mediocrity, which is the worst thing that could happen to it.
You need to make up your mind and stick with one plan. The next following the Bobcats' first ever playoff appearance, the team struggled out of the gate, and Brown was fired after a 9-19 start to the season.You then decided that staying in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, in this hopeless no man's land, was no place for the franchise to be.
So the team got rid of pretty much every useful asset and become the worst team in NBA history. But there was light at the end of the tunnel — a lovely, glorious unibrow-covered light by the name of Anthony Davis. He would be the answer to the team's problems. He would be the franchise star the franchise so desperately needed to stay afloat and relevant not just in the NBA, but in the city of Charlotte itself.
Then, in typical Charlotte Bobcats fashion (or bad luck, whichever you prefer to think of it as), the cards did not fall our way. We struck out and missed out on Anthony Davis, and to the old Charlotte Hornets of all teams. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a fine consultation prize, sure. But he is a double. The Bobcats needed (and still need) a home run.
So after a few seasons of struggling to recover from losing the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, you decide the best way to save the franchise (and rightfully so), was to listen to the long-growing groundswell and bring back the Charlotte Hornets name. Put a fresh coat of paint on your team.
But, at the end of the day, this team is still the Charlotte Bobcats, regardless of whatever color jersey they wear now. They are still the same bad luck-stricken franchise, trying to return to relevance in the NBA. This was still the same squad that some said overachieved when they made the playoffs two seasons ago. This is still the same franchise that, for the most part, has never known anything else but the no man's land of constantly being in the race for the eight seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Isn't that what you wanted to avoid? Isn't that what sent the Bobcats on their doomed path in the first place — being stuck in the endless loop of first round playoff eliminations? Sure, it is fun in the short term. But what is the long term plan and goal here?
I hate to be so critical of you and the team. I have been a supporter of this franchise since day one, and was one of maybe 15 people in all the Carolinas who would continue to proudly call himself a Charlotte Bobcats fan. I defend you and the numerous decisions that many questioned. I turned my shoulder to the rumors that you hired supporters and friends on the team and looked down upon anyone who questioned you and your moves.
When Rich Cho came on, I saw it as a sign of change. That you, Michael Jordan, had learned to step away from every basketball decision and to let others do what you pay them to do. After all, no offense, but your track record is not exactly the best.
But then this piece from Zach Lowe comes out, and it mentions how you are hiring family members, voting in the draft room on who to pick and that some employees are not skipping Cho entirely and going straight to you.
That is not good. That is not ideal. It makes me...well, it turns me into this.
I want to see this team succeed almost as desperately as you do, Mr. Jordan. The path I see us going on now is one that this franchise barely survived going down before, and it will do us no favors to go back that way.
At the very least, pick one plan and stick with it. At first, you said that you did not want the team to be stuck battling for a six through eight seed in the playoffs. Now, it is the ceiling of the 'win now' team you are creating, featuring injury-prone stars and recent signings that may or may not have had ulterior motives. Rich Cho can be a good GM, but I fear (based off of nothing in particular) that you have given him this 'win now' ultimatum, when instead the team should be trying to focus on building for the long term and creating a powerhouse contender built around a superstar.
I am genuinely concerned, Mr. Jordan, that in two to three years, we will be right back where we started when you took over this franchise on March 17, 2010. Something must be done to change that. Hopefully, I am wrong about all this. But I truly fear that we have not learned from the past and are doomed to repeat it.
Russell, a concerned Hornets fan