Report: Michael Jordan Voice of Reason Between Players, Owners in Strike Talks

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2020

Former basketball superstar Michael Jordan speaks during a press conference ahead of NBA basketball game between Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks in Paris, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus))
Thibault Camus)/Associated Press

Charlotte Hornets chairman Michael Jordan has reportedly become an important intermediary between NBA players and the league as they discuss social justice issues in wake of Wednesday's player strike.

"Michael is the perfect person to be in this role," a league official told Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. "He's been a high-profile player who has won championships. He's also the owner of a small-market team. He has great credibility both with the players and the owners."

Jordan reportedly encouraged owners to allow players to make their suggestions and air their frustrations when the two sides met Thursday. He has also spoken with NBPA President Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook to gauge the players' thoughts and offer his assistance.

NBA players voted to resume games as soon as Friday, but it's likely a determination will be made once union representatives and owners meet.

Jordan plays an important role because of the cachet he holds with both players and owners as one of the game's all-time greats and a chairman of a small-market franchise. The 57-year-old is the only Black majority owner in the league.

The Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for their scheduled matchup with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, setting off a ripple effect across sports. The NBA postponed playoff games that day and Thursday in a move that was largely procedural as the league scrambled to save the season.

If the Bucks and other players' decisions to sit out games was deemed a strike—which it was, before being granted implicit league approval—it would have violated the league's collective bargaining agreement and likely resulted in an automatic ending of the 2019-20 season.

It's unclear what actionable change the players will ask owners for in their meeting. The league pledged $300 million over 10 years to social justice causes, along with painting "Black Lives Matter" on the courts and allowing players to place messages on the back of their jerseys during the Orlando restart.

However, it's clear players want a push for more tangible change from the owners, who have largely been supportive to this point.