Considering the Charlotte Bobcats’ status as one of the NBA’s laughingstocks — currently on a seven-game losing streak and in possession of the league’s worst record — fans were probably heartened by a recent report involving team owner Michael Jordan. Arguably the NBA’s all-time greatest player but a lousy owner, Jordan reportedly is considering selling the team if he continues to lose millions on his investment.
“I told [General Manager Rich Cho] to make us better,” Jordan told one associate recently, according to the Daily News. “If that doesn’t work and I can’t make a profit in the next three to four years, then I’m selling.”
Jordan joined the franchise in 2006 as managing member of basketball operations for then-owner Robert Johnson and took over as owner in 2010. The Bobcats have produced one winning season with Jordan’s fingerprints on the team, compiling an overall mark of 188-232 — not including this year’s 7-43 record, which makes Charlotte the NBA’s only team with fewer than 10 wins.
But before fans could take to the streets to celebrate his impending departure, Jordan said that the report isn’t true. “I was disturbed to hear the false report that I intend to sell my majority interest in the Charlotte Bobcats,” Jordan said Sunday in a statement. “I am 100 percent committed to building the Bobcats into a contender and have no plans to sell the team.”
It’s understandable if the news was a downer. Jordan’s track record in management is abysmal. In Charlotte he has drafted Adam Morrison and traded away Tyson Chandler and Gerald Wallace. In his three-plus seasons as an executive with the Washington Wizards, Jordan’s teams were 110-179. He infamously drafted Kwame Brown as the overall No. 1 pick in 2001, one of the biggest busts in recent history (Morrison is another).
Former NBA great Charles Barkley admits that “Air Jordan” hasn’t transferred his Hall of Fame skills from the court to the front office. “I love Michael, but he just has not done a good job,” Barkley said last month on a Chicago radio show. “Even though he is one of my great friends, I can’t get on here and tell you he’s done a great job. He has not done a great job, plain and simple.”
Barkley said that Jordan’s weakness as a talent evaluator is compounded by the abundance of yes-men who surround him. “I don’t think Michael has hired enough people around him who will disagree,” he said.
The Bobcats have been losers on the court and off. The team’s financial situation has improved since Jordan took over, but Forbes magazine recently estimated that the Bobcats are losing more than $10 million annually. Sports Illustrated reports that the team lost $20 million last season and expects more of the same this year.
Jordan’s legacy isn’t lost on current Bobcats players such as Kemba Walker, who says he is confident in the team’s future and grateful to play for the owner. “It’s exciting to have the greatest player of all time to be around,” Walker said. “So when you need advice or anything about basketball, you can go to [Jordan] and talk to him. As far as [Jordan’s personnel decisions are concerned], we’re young right now, but in the future we’ll be solid.”