Report: Michael Jordan Pushed NBA Player Safety over 'Meaningless Games'

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 29, 2020

Former NBA star and owner of Charlotte Hornets team Michael Jordan looks on as he addresses a press conference ahead of the NBA basketball match between Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on January 24, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

As the NBA discussed multiple options for a return-to-play plan on Friday's Board of Governors call, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan was reportedly among those in the teleconference advocating for player safety over extending the regular season.

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Hornets owner Michael Jordan advocated on the call for player safety, and not simply having players return for meaningless games, sources said. Given the NBA is prioritizing health and safety first and foremost, 30 team return is unlikely. https://t.co/03pAvpDPi7

According to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, Jordan was against having all players return for "meaningless games."

It remains unclear how many teams will be involved under the league's restart plan should NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decide to resume the season. While Silver has yet to make his formal determination, Charania reported the league is targeting July 31 as a return date. 

Among the formats being considered, per Charania, are a 16-team playoff, a 20-team group play stage followed by a postseason, a 22-team restart featuring regular-season games along with a play-in tournament and a 30-team option to complete a 72-game regular season that also includes a play-in tournament for the postseason. 

Given Jordan's comments, Charania believes the 30-team option is unlikely. The more teams invited to the yet-to-be-determined bubble site, the more risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the greater the need for daily testing. 

Jordan's Hornets were seven games out of the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference when the NBA went on hiatus on March 11 following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test. At 23-42, a Hornets playoff run seems unlikely. 

Recalling his roster to play in games they have little chance of winning, or participating in a tournament that may not see Charlotte advance, may not be worth the risk of exposure. 

According to a survey of NBA general managers, Jordan may not have enough support to convince Silver to avoid unnecessary matchups. Charania reports non-playoff teams are currently split on resuming the season.

There is still no definitive timeline for Silver's decision on returning to play; however, he previously noted an announcement may come in early June.