Michael Jordan’s gotten his fair share of grief as an NBA owner. He hasn’t run his Charlotte squad all that well, and fans and the media have let him hear about it — a series of criticisms dating back to when he was an executive (and player!) with the Washington Wizards. The greatest to ever play the game has been a real stinker at drafting players, using top-ten picks on the likes of Adam Morrison, Raymond Felton, D.J. Augustin and Kwame Brown. And he hasn’t been able to use his clout and legend to pull free agents to North Carolina, either.
It’s been fun for the basketball world to engage in a little schadenfreude, too. Michael’s 2010-11 Bobcats had a winning percentage of .106 — the worst in NBA history — and everyone got to feel a little better about themselves. Nobody’s perfect, and that’s comforting. Jordan’s old golfing buddy Charles Barkley even slathered the ridicule on so thick that it reportedly ruined their friendship. Post-playing perception about MJ has been a downward-trending game.
But Jordan isn’t bad at his job anymore. He’s turned the Bobcats back into the Hornets and made them a respectable basketball team in the process too. Last year’s squad (then still the ‘Cats) finished 43-39, led by the defense-first ethos of coach Steve Clifford and big man Al Jefferson’s hypnotic scoring presence in the paint. They cracked the playoffs for the first time in a long time.
This summer Jordan added Lance Stephenson to the mix, one of the best young guards in the game. His rebranded young team — the makeover featuring a beautiful new honeycomb court — is potent and fun. He’s a good owner now. If you want to make fun of His Airness these days, you’re going to have to turn to his questionable sense of fashion.
— John Wilmes