With the Charlotte Bobcats mired in a two-game losing streak and with an Eastern Conference playoff spot not quite yet sewn up, the team needed a big performance from center Al Jefferson on Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
If the big man needed some inspiration, he needed look no further than the first row. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan sat next to the team bench during the game, and he knows a thing or two about coming up big in important games.
Following Charlotte's resounding 124-94 win over the Blazers, Jefferson credited Jordan for providing an extra jolt of motivation, per the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell:
Big Al on Michael Jordan sitting next to team bench: "My boss was here tonight. You better run through walls. He isn't taking any less."— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) March 23, 2014
Jefferson certainly came to play for the boss on Saturday, scoring a game-high 28 points (on 13-of-22 shooting from the field), grabbing seven rebounds and dishing a shocking six assists.
But the man known as "Big Al" did not win this game by himself. Guards Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson also dominated their Portland counterparts:
- Walker: 26 points, six assists, two rebounds, zero turnovers.
- Henderson: 23 points, five assists, eight rebounds.
Now that is a real team effort.
As for Jordan, the once absentee owner has been making his presence known of late. He stopped by the Bobcats' locker room for a pep talk before a March 7 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. At the time, it was not considered a common occurrence, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer and Jodie Valade:
It would appear that Jordan really, really wants this playoff appearance. And he is a man who usually gets what he wants.
Well, don't fret, Your Airness. As of Saturday afternoon, the Bobcats had a 98.8 percent chance of making the postseason, per Basketball-Reference. Those are strong odds, and they will only go up after this victory.