Michael Jordan has done it again, coming from behind to win what he wants.
This time, it's the Charlotte Bobcats -- his homestate NBA team. Bob Johnson announced really early Saturday morning -- the e-mail hit my in-box at 2:05 a.m. -- that he had reached a deal to sell to Jordan.
So Johnson kept his word on this one. He told me last April, in the last substantial interview he gave prior to the sale, that he wanted to help MJ own a franchise. “I know Michael wants to own a team, and I want to assist him however I can,” Johnson told me then. And that's what happened.
Will Michael be a good owner? I think he will. Others don't. Obviously, there's more news to come on this deal in terms of the way it is structured, but I feel the same way about Jordan owning the Bobcats now as I did last May, when I wrote this column advocating him buying a controlling interest in the franchise. Here are a couple of excerpts from my May 2009 Observer column:
Michael Jordan should own the Charlotte Bobcats.
He’s the logical choice – the insider with starpower who also happens to be the best basketball player ever. After some false starts, Jordan has revived the Bobcats’ roster with the help of his handpicked coach, Larry Brown.
I think Jordan could be an excellent owner if he makes a few changes to the way he does business. I certainly prefer him to an outsider with a big wallet and no deep ties to Charlotte. We could end up with another Ray Wooldridge in a mock turtleneck.
One of the problems with Jordan is that -- because we’ve watched him for nearly 30 years now -- we know his flaws like we know those of our own family. He doesn’t live here full-time. He made “Space Jam.” He gambles. He drafted Kwame Brown No.1 and Adam Morrison No.3. He hired Sam Vincent as a coach. He used to have a whole lot more money before he and Juanita Jordan divorced in December 2006.
But despite his flaws, Jordan knows basketball.... He’s very smart. And he understands his homestate.
Yes, MJ can be aloof. He doesn’t choose to relate to the common fan as much as he should. But I’ve got a plan to fix that.
So what Jordan first needs to do is first buy a controlling interest in the team from Bob Johnson.... Then he needs to make his first call to Jerry Richardson. No one relates to the average fan better than Richardson. “Big Cat” drives around on his golf cart, drops by unexpectedly at fans’ tailgate parties and sends handwritten notes so personal they get framed. The Panthers owner is rightfully beloved.
Jordan needs to learn from Richardson. There are ways to maintain his privacy but to still win over more fans, thus filling more seats and damming the red-ink river that currently runs from Time Warner Cable Arena.
When Jordan first bought a piece of the Bobcats three years ago, he said: “Now as an insider, I have the authority to change the script a little bit. That’s what I want to do.”
Here’s the perfect opportunity.
So, yes, at the end of February 2010, the opportunity is now officially here. The ball is in Jordan's hands. Let's see what he does with it.