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Michael Jordan Explains Why Rod Higgins Stepped Down as Hornets President

CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 26:  Michael Jordan watches as the Charlotte Bobcats play the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 26, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2014

Rod Higgins decided to step down from his position as president of basketball operations for the Charlotte Hornets with the draft and free agency just around the corner. 

Hornets owner Michael Jordan recently spoke with The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell to offer some background on the move. Per Bonnell:

Jordan said Friday that he recently offered Higgins a new contract and that they had agreed on financial terms. Then, about a week ago, Jordan told Higgins he wanted to rearrange some job responsibilities to better fit Higgins’ and Cho’s skill sets.

Jordan elaborated, saying, "Rod’s strong points are working with the coaches and the trainers, traveling with the team. He was my buffer zone with the coaches. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with ideas, so I’d work with Rod on that."

Rich Cho, the team's general manager, seemed better equipped to handle personnel responsibilities. Jordan even noted that, "Sometimes when teams would call (proposing trades), they’d bypass Rod to get to Rich."

Jordan also noted that the previous arrangement just wasn't working, saying there was, "confusion over who reported to whom. It created a contentious environment where I had to step in."

Bonnell writes that Higgins viewed the proposed change in job description as "a demotion." And that's when he decided to call it quits.

Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney offers more background on the ex-president:

Higgins has been with the franchise (formerly known as the Bobcats) as an executive since 2007, first as the team’s general manager before his promotion in 2011. During that time Charlotte went through five different head coaches and hired Rich Cho as general manager. Cho will remain with the Hornets despite Higgins’ resignation and will oversee Charlotte’s basketball operations.

Higgins had good things to say about Cho upon his 2011 arrival, per ESPN.com.

"This will give us a whole different area that we can open up our minds to," Higgins said. "He'll bring in some concepts and some stats and some analytics that we haven't done in the past. I think that's the beauty of it."

Since his arrival in 2007, Higgins has watched the team take something of a roller-coaster ride. Yet from the very beginning, he was clear about this being Jordan's team, once saying, "At the end of the day we'll put things on the table and Michael will come and make those decisions," per USA Today's Mike Cranston.

Higgins remained a loyal facilitator all along, at one point even having to waive his own son from the team.

With the Hornets looking to add some additional star power, Cho will become primarily responsible for making any key additions via trade or free agency. The franchise has made big strides since its days at the bottom of the standings, but it remains unclear how attractive of a destination it is in the eyes of prospective acquisitions.

With center Al Jefferson and a young core led by Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, there's no question the Hornets have a bright future. The club was vastly outmatched by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, but put in an admirable effort all the same. If that's a sign of things to come, keep an eye on the up-and-coming Hornets.

MJ certainly is.

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