Happy Michael Jordan Day: Is Charlotte Hornets owner open to change?

Feb 20, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Michael Jordan at halftime during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Michael Jordan at halftime during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

With apologies to 2007-08 Charlotte Bobcats’ Jason Richardson, the most important number 23 in Charlotte basketball franchise history was honored today on 2/3/23 with Michael Jordan Day.

Celebrating Jordan during Black History Month gave the day extra gravitas, as he is the only black majority franchise owner in the NBA. And the fact that the man largely considered to be the best to ever pick up a basketball was able to turn that into owning a franchise presents as quite the success story.

Jordan, whose name is literally a brand for Nike, is best known for his unflinching will to win. Large swaths of the documentary “The Last Dance” were just a series of anecdotes about Jordan’s dogged determination to win at all costs—even, occasionally, to the immediate detriment of those around him.

That determination must make the prospect of tanking for better players make his skin crawl. The most impressive thing about Jordan’s basketball career might’ve been his restraint at lacing them back up during the infamous 2011-12 season

Given his iconic stature in the game, perhaps the most surprising thing has been the hesitancy from superstar players to play for Jordan. When he first took over from Robert Johnson in 2010, there was joy and exuberance in the fanbase. Not only was the team getting new leadership, but they were getting the best player ever—who also had deep connections with Nike and its athletes.

One could be forgiven for thinking that a player that otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in living in Charlotte, would make an exception to be around the guy they had on their walls and feet as a child.

Michael Jordan: The Franchise Owner

Sadly, to this point, no such magic has occurred with the arrival of the NC native. As great as his playing career was, the executive Jordan has had his misses. His decision to draft Kwame Brown first overall still receives scrutiny, as well as his decision to take Adam Morrison third in the 2006 NBA draft.

But any struggles he’s had since owning the team certainly don’t tarnish his legacy, instead, it should serve as a reminder about the difficulty in running a team and talent evaluation—and how different those skillsets are compared to playing the game.

Besides, Jordan has fielded a solid team in recent years. The Hornets have been on the precipice of the playoffs three of the past four seasons, with injury being the main culprit in the team’s inability to make it over the hump. Indeed, as backward as it sounds, this may be the most important season in Jordan’s tenure in Charlotte.

If the team is bad enough, they may finally receive the talent in the draft that has previously eluded them. Moreover, LaMelo Ball’s ascension as an All-star has not only given the team national shine but may make the team more attractive to free agents.

So, there it is. Jordan’s legacy as an owner may come down to him doing what he fought through pain and personal turmoil to never do—lose. It may mean trading some of his best, most productive players for salary cap flexibility or draft picks. In Jordan’s second year with the Chicago Bulls, he was injured.

Despite the team wanting him to sit for the year to garner a better draft pick, he refused and came off the bench to help nudge the Bulls into the playoffs.

It will say as much about Jordan as it does about the current NBA when he ultimately makes this decision.