Paging Chicken Little

There are certain phrases in the English language that fans of an NBA team should never have to endure.  Unfortunately for those in the greater Charlotte area that are crazy enough to be in love with Bobcats basketball, they’ve had to endure quite a few.  “Your new uniforms will be the same color as traffic cones.”  “Now introducing your starting point guard, Jeff McInnis.”  “With the third pick in the 2006 NBA draft, the Charlotte Bobcats select…”, well, you know the drill.

But the latest in the aforementioned series of miniature tragedies is the news that Michal Jordan, famous basketballer and infamous manager, is looking to spearhead an ownership group to buy the ‘Cats.

I repeat: the sky is falling. Cue up the R.E.M., stock the shelter with canned goods, and don’t forget to set the Tivo.  This one could get ugly.

Jordan’s missteps as an executive are well-chronicled, and have essentially built themselves a nice little cottage in the collective unconscious of basketball fans.  Whispers of the name “Kwame Brown” still haunt the streets of D.C. to this day, and Kwame was really just the tip of the iceberg.  The way the Wizards were mismanaged while Jordan was simultaneously running a reign of terror as an exec and trying to be the star on the court should have been a cautionary tale for franchises all over the country: this guy is not built for the front office.  He’s just not.  And yet Jordan parlayed a name an excellent video resume of stock highlights and Space Jam footage into a controlling position within the Bobcats organization.  I’m guilty of offering second chances to just about anyone under the sun, but even I can’t grasp why the Bobcats thought Jordan might find redemption in the front office.  Putting his name in the program isn’t going to sell many tickets, and the product he ultimately puts on the court likely won’t find much success.

All of that said, Jordan does deserve some praise.  Trading Jason Richardson for Boris Diaw and Raja Bell was a gutsy move, one that many (myself included) thought would backfire.  Instead, Boris acted as a catalyst toward legitimacy and Bell was an able contributor at the 2.  Richardson wasn’t missed.  He also grabbed D.J. Augustin in the 2008 draft, a move which certainly has two sides.  Augustin had a productive rookie campaign, and is clearly capable of being an impact guard.  But the Bobcats also passed on Brook Lopez, an impact center who had an even more productive rookie season.  I’m not going to grill Jordan for taking Augustin, but I do think Lopez would have been an interesting fit.  Of course we’d be looking at a very different Bobcats team, one without Diaw and Bell and still plagued by Richardson’s inconsistency and his contract.  But let’s stay off fantasy island for now.

In spite of all of Jordan’s reasonable success in the recent past, having him as the head of an ownership group is not only ill-advised, but flat-out irresponsible.  He’s the head of basketball ops in Charlotte, and elevating him to the majority shareholder in the team bears one flaw of cataclysmic proportions: no matter how terrible of an executive Jordan is or ever will be, he holds his own purse strings.  That means Jordan himself would have to be resigned to stepping down from his duties if that time ever came, which is not exactly the kind of thing you’d like to bank on.  Jordan, as a player and a person, is reknowned for his passion for the game, his refusal to quit, and his must-win mentality.  On the court, those things are an asset.  But in the case of an executive with a seriously blemished record, confidence becomes arrogance, resolve becomes stubbornness, and desire becomes insanity.

The Bobcats can live with Jordan right where he is: just tasting the power of ownership but without the ball in his hands at all times.  MJ is going to keep calling for that power and that responsibility as long as he’s a manager in this league, but sometimes a person just needs to be told, “No.”

Seth Carstens