Michael Jordan: Bobcats Owner Smart to Relinquish Stranglehold over Franchise

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 26: Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan looks at the video board during the game against the Orlando Magic at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 26, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Magic defeated the Bobcats 99-90 to complete the four game sweep.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.   (Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images)
Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

Michael Jordan

The name alone resonates with people all over the world. Jordan might be the best basketball player in the history of the sport, but there is so much more to him and his name than just what he did on the court. 

Jordan is a worldwide brand that rakes in at least $1 billion annually, according to Forbes. He is an icon in every sense of the word. Everything he tries, he succeeds at. 

At least that had been the case up until Jordan moved into the NBA front offices. Everyone remembers his turn with the Washington Wizards that produced the infamous No. 1 overall pick of Kwame Brown in 2001. 

In 2010, Jordan took over majority ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats. The franchise was on the verge of its first postseason appearance when he took over, so it seemed like a prudent investment. 

Unfortunately, the wheels fell off the last two years, and the Bobcats have won only 43 games since the start of the 2010-11 season, including seven last year. They are also on their third head coach in two seasons. 

Jordan's presence as both an owner and a front office executive makes it almost impossible for a general manager and talent evaluators to properly do their jobs because, if you cross Jordan, he will fire you just as soon as he listens to you. 

However, it appears that Jordan is softening in his old age. According to a story from Ryan McGee in ESPN The Magazine, he is about to change the way he operates as an owner. 

According to (general manager Rich) Cho, when he left his job as the Trail Blazers GM to come to Charlotte 15 months ago, his marching orders from Jordan were simple and specific -- build through the draft and get free agents to complement the youngsters and put them over the top. The old Jordan, by his own admission, believed that if he cleared enough cap space, he could personally lure the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But as he learned last year, even "MJ" appearing on their caller IDs wasn't enough to offset the lure of LA.

It is hard for anyone to give up their seat of power. Jordan is the most successful athlete, factoring in on- and off-court ventures, in the last 30 years. He knows how to build an empire because he has already done it. 

But trying to take all those lessons learned from establishing the Jordan brand and applying them to the day-to-day operations of an NBA franchise will not work. That has been proven based on his results with both the Wizards and Bobcats. 

By taking a step back to realize that he was part of the problem speaks to how serious Jordan is about turning the franchise around. His name alone isn't going to bring people into the building anymore. 

The Bobcats have a long, painful road ahead of them. It is going to take years before they are relevant again, yet because they finally have a front office in place that understands what it's doing, and an owner ready to give them whatever they need, it will be fun to watch. 

Two of the most important moments in Jordan's playing career were when he deferred to John Paxson and Steve Kerr in the 1993 and 1997 NBA Finals, respectively.

It took Jordan the owner awhile to realize that other people are there to help. Now he is closer to having front office moments like the ones he helped create on the court.