What Michael Jordan's Critics in the NBA Lockout Fail to Understand
It seems that Nick Young, Paul George and Klay Thompson (among others, undoubtedly) have taken offense with Michael Jordan's stance as an owner, and they have taken to social media to call him out for alleged hypocrisy.
For those of you not following this gripping sub-dialogue in the already botched spectacle that is the NBA lockout, allow me to briefly fill you in. With his power as owner of the Bobcats, Jordan has been among those owners who've taken a hardline stance on collective bargaining.
What this means is he is pushing to reduce the players' share of basketball-related income to 47 percent, and his brand of hardball has begun to rub a number of players the wrong way.
Young, among others, has vented his disgust on Twitter, in the midst of enacting a devastating one-man boycott of Jordan's shoes. Thompson, meanwhile, lamented that Michael circa 1996 would never have done this, and went on to call him a "straight hypocrite."
In their defense, Thompson is young, and Young is a Wizard and obviously neither is a Rhodes scholar. Still, a statement like this, likely to elicit a (misguided) sympathetic public response, begs a reply from cooler heads.
From these kids' comments, it would seem that they were expecting Jordan to soften his stance in favor of the players, based on some kind of nostalgic loyalty from his playing days. Failure to do so, they seem to feel, makes him a hypocrite.
The fatal error in this logic is that it fails to consider profession. Michael is no longer a player; he is an owner. Once upon a time, it was his job to play basketball and, in a situation like this, to look out for his fellow players. That was then.
Does taking the hardline stance make Michael Jordan a hypocrite?
Now his job is to run a profitable team. He literally jumped the battle lines the day he took a front office job, and nobody had a problem with this in NBA peacetime. Now that the lockout has thrust his interests directly against the players', they're berating him for not remaining loyal.
In my humble opinion, this is exactly as if a player were to get traded, only to have his former team call him a hypocrite for not going easy on them. With apologies to whomever the shoe fits, it takes a rather feeble mind to think that way.
Now, I'm way ahead of you: No, I wasn't at the meeting, and no, I didn't hear what Young heard. Maybe Jordan said some cold-blooded, brutally business-like things that caught him by surprise, perhaps marring some illusion he had of Jordan as a player's owner.
Personally, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn he had. Let's stop for a moment and remember who we're talking about here...Didn't "ruthless" rank among Jordan's more notorious qualities on the court?
In fact, had he not already built a commercial empire before even retiring? Who here sincerely thinks Michael was ever anything less than shark in the boardroom? Why would he suddenly decide to be an accommodating guy during the biggest financial standoff of his business career?
No self-respecting businessman would do that, let alone Mr. "Win If It Kills Me." Michael Jordan is a renowned gladiator whose heart is incapable of bleeding for an opponent. The only thing that's changed is the arena.
I might add that altering one's position for maximum profit is not so much hypocrisy as it is a basic tenet of the cutthroat corporate world.
Klay Thompson is right; player Jordan would never have done this. Somebody should tell him—and anyone else who is unpleasantly surprised at MJ—that player Jordan left the building nearly 10 years ago.
Perhaps if he had never become an NBA owner, he could be criticized for not siding with the players in a crisis like this, but come on...The man is in the one position where his job requires him to be unsympathetic to them.
Knowing Jordan, he's probably exhibiting the cold-blooded, heartless attitude specifically required to excel in the business world. The same cold-blooded heartlessness that helped him excel on the basketball court to the delight of all.
Unfortunately for Young and company, circumstances have put them on the wrong side of Jordan's unwavering will to vanquish his opponent, and they are not reacting well. What gets lost in all the tweeting, pissing and moaning is that Michael is just being Michael.
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