Charlotte Bobcats owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan condemned the notion that teams should tank the season, a topic that has been the talk of the league since an anonymous general manger admitted to Jeff Goodman of ESPN The Magazine that his team will be losing on purpose to improve its draft position.
Jordan told Steve Reed of the Associated Press about his stance on losing on purpose to gain an advantage in this year’s deep draft:
I don't know if some teams have thought of that. That's not something that we would do. I don't believe in that. If that was my intention I never would have paid (free agent) Al Jefferson $13 million a year.
It's not guaranteed (the player) you are going to get is going to be that star anyway. I did read that certain teams are thinking about doing it. But I'm not one of them. So let's alleviate that conversation.
While Jordan has faced criticism for the lack of success the team has had during his tenure (the Bobcats are 62-168 in his three seasons as majority owner), the fact that he is not tanking the season on purpose is a great sign for the future of the organization.
Not only is Jordan’s presence slowly making the team a destination—Jefferson could be the key to getting other players to sign with Charlotte when they hit free agency—but the young core of talented players (potential stars like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Cody Zeller) have also shown glimpses of promise.
It takes years to build a franchise in the NBA, and Jordan is facing the growing pains of that transformation.
For a legend who won six NBA championships over his career and is arguably the greatest player of all tme, the thought of losing on purpose doesn’t sit well. Neither does the criticism of his team’s performance, per Reed:
It's somewhat unfair, but you come to expect it. You set certain standards as a player that transcend whatever you do. It goes where you go. You will be wearing that around your neck so that when people see the name they expect the results. It's somewhat unfair but it is what it is. I don't let it define me.
The Bobcats made a few prudent moves in the offseason, including using the amnesty clause to cut forward Tyrus Thomas and his $18 million contract while adding Jefferson and re-signing Gerald Henderson for $18 million over three years.
While the franchise may lack an elite star that can become the long-term face of the organization, Charlotte and Jordan will not be trying to lose on purpose to find that player in the draft.
That’s not how the legend is building his franchise.