The Bobcats' winning percentage this season which is the worst in NBA history. Michael Jordan the player was never a part of such futility. Michael Jordan the owner? That’s another story.
It’s long been said that great players don’t make great coaches. Anyone besides NBA Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens come to mind? These days, great players want to be owners. It remains to be seen how that goes.
Ownership hasn’t worked out well at all for the man generally acknowledged as the greatest basketball player of all time. His first attempt was in Washington as part owner and president of basketball operations of the Washington Wizards. In the summer of 2001, after one year in that role, Jordan decided he wanted to come back as a player.
When Jordan retired after the 2002-03 season, Wizards owner Abe Pollin decided the Wizards could do without decisions like using the first overall pick on Kwame Brown. He fired the great Michael Jordan.
We all know the story of Jordan being cut from his high-school team. Obviously, he came back from that slight with a vengeance. Would he do the same with his second chance at ownership?
So far, not so much. Jordan became a minority owner of the Bobcats in the summer of 2006 with complete control over basketball operations. He took over as majority owner in March of 2010.
The criticism of Jordan the executive is that he lacks what fueled Jordan the player: a passion to win that led to a maniacal work ethic which forced teammates to keep up or get out of the way. Ask Steve Kerr who Jordan punched out in practice.
Jordan doesn’t seem to put in the hours required to succeed as an executive. He doesn’t spend hours watching tape. He doesn’t travel to personally scout players around the world. I don’t know of many executives who own a motorcycle racing team and have their own brand of athletic clothing.
It’s interesting to me that the Bobcats have six lottery picks on their roster. The Miami Heat have seven, the Oklahoma City Thunder have five and the Chicago Bulls have four. Bad draft decisions? Bad coaching?
Charles Barkley and former Bobcats coach Larry Brown have recently said that Jordan doesn’t have enough people around him who will stand up to him. The top two executives under Jordan are Curtis Polk the vice chairman and Fred Whitfield the president and chief operating officer.
Polk has worked exclusively for Jordan since 2001, managing his financial and business affairs. Whitfield previously worked for Brand Jordan, the Wizards and the management company owned by Jordan’s agent, David Falk.
In fairness to Jordan, there are members of the Bobcats executive team who do have experience other than working for His Airness. Does he welcome their possibly contrarian input? I don’t know.
Success starts at the top. The person at the top doesn’t have to make all the decisions. One of the best decisions I’ve seen successful leaders make is to hire talented people and then let them do their jobs.
Jordan clearly has not had success as an executive. It remains to be seen if he will come back with the same vengeance that he showed as a teen.