ESPN’s “The Last Dance” has taken the sports world and social media by storm. By shedding a more detailed and intimate light on the Charlotte Hornets owner, could the documentary be a blessing in disguise for the organization?
It’s safe to say everyone knows who Michael Jordan is. Of course, he may be more famous for being the greatest to ever play the game as opposed to simply being the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, but his name still commands reverence.
With ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary disclosing a more candid side of his final playing days with the Chicago Bulls during their last title run, fans who never got to see him play at the time are now finding out just how great he really was, rather than simply hearing about it from older fans who were fortunate enough to see “The GOAT” play.
Of course, there will always be the guys who stand firm on the LeBron James side of the argument and that’s fine, but it’s great to see people who truly had no clue as to his greatness get to see M.J. for what he was: a transcendent player that not only rose above the entire sport but also took his teams with him.
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As phenomenal a job as the series has done at showing just how dominant and deadly Jordan was as a player, I highly doubt the documentary will touch on his tenure as Hornets owner in the remaining two episodes. There’s simply no need to as it has very little to do with the subject matter at hand. That’s probably a good thing, too, as most people’s admiration of Jordan stays relegated to his feats on the court.
It’s no secret that Hornets fans have a strained relationship with Michael Jordan. Much of that is due to his seemingly laissez-faire attitude regarding the day-to-day affairs of the team. He hasn’t been the most outspoken owner, by any stretch, and with the front office moves the team has made over the past decade or so, many fans wonder if he even has any input at all over trades, signings, and other transactions.
Still, playing for the great Michael Jordan has to account for something, especially after the younger players finally watch the series… right? That’s a hard thing to nail down, for any team in any sport. It’s rare to hear players’ candid thoughts on ownership, especially in the age of social media and talking heads.
In theory, yes, it would be nice to play for such an icon and the series is showing the young guys just how much he meant to the game in a more tangible way than social media ever could. Who wouldn’t want to play for the ultimate competitor? Yet, the Charlotte Hornets’ track record speaks for itself, and M.J. is not without some of the blame.
Whether it’s letting the franchise’s greatest player ever, Kemba Walker, go with as little explanation as possible, or giving out a ludicrous contract to a player like Nicolas Batum, Jordan is still the figurehead, whether he had any real input on the decisions or not.
No matter how flattering the documentary may be for Jordan as a basketball player, his reputation as an owner is still tarnished and players coming into the league do notice this. Of course, it doesn’t help that as time goes by, Michael Jordan’s relevance will continue to dissipate, no matter how many series are made about him.
So, can Jordan fix it all? Sure, he could use the expanded notoriety the documentary has given him to say some things to the fans left wondering about the state of the team going forward. He could reassure Hornets fans that the winning mindset he applied to playing basketball could also be applied to his owning the team.
I see a lot of blame thrown his way and he is the public face of the team, so that comes with the territory. For all we know, however, the team’s status over his tenure could eat at him the way so many trials and tribulations did over his years playing the game. It’s easy to say he doesn’t care or that the Hornets are just a money-making venture, especially given the team’s lack of success.
That’s why the series is the perfect opportunity for M.J. to come out and say that the guy you see in all the old clips or the candid interviews is still in there, still wanting to win, even if it’s merely from an owner’s standpoint.
Personally, as a huge Michael Jordan fan, I want to believe that the same competitive drive he had as a player would extend to his status as an owner, but because very few are privy to the behind-the-scenes goings-on in the organization, we may never know. Perhaps a new documentary will be made about that, with an aging Jordan finally setting the record straight.
Until then, Charlotte Hornets fans can only hope that maybe, possibly, somehow, Jordan seeing the monumental amount of reactions to his competitive fire and killer instinct on the court will finally translate to his dealings off the court, or at least in a way we can finally see. It’s easy to love Jordan the player, but “The Last Dance” could spark something that will make us love him as an owner as well.