Saturday, February 27, 2010

Michael "wins" the Bobcats -- now what?

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.


DWS44 said...

Hey Scott...are you hearing any grumblings of whether MJ might consider changing the team name? Several comments in the headline story that share my opinion that we should dump the cheezy (and arrogant) "Bob"cats name! (If so, what name do you think might have the inside track?)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more, please get rid of the stupid Bobcats name. Sounds like a name a Division III school from Alaska would use.

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte Flight", please.

And change the colors to blue and white. Come up with a cool logo that maybe includes a jet fighter with a contrail behind it, or even the Wright Flyer.

mitch said...

MJ should take advice from the belovedJerry Richardson? In the beginning he may beloved owner, and recently he has gotten a pass because of his health problems. Now that he is back in the saddle, Jerry has made some huge public blunders this past year that has pissed off his fanbase. Take note of the following:

1) Refused to allow the biggest highschool football game in NC history to be played in his own builinding. For every personal note he has written, I bet he got hundreds of emails, phone calls, and personal notes ripping him for that.

2) Refusing to tell John Foxx to put in Matt Moore and bench Jake Delhomme. Forcing his fan base to watch Delhomme through away games when a capable backup was on the sidline.Bud Adams told Jeff Fisher to make a change. Can't Jerry do the same?

3) Jerry is involved with the new CBA. He and his fellow NFL owners are about to pis off the NFL fans even more if there is no Football in the near future. According to Forbes, the Panthers had revenue of 203 million dollars. Yet, Jerry and his and his boys are holding out for more money. Yeah, Jerry reaaly cares for the fans.

4) Scott, I do not know when the last time you have watch a Panther game from the stands and not the press box, but are you telling me that the fan involvement is better at a Panther game then a Bobcat game? At Panther game, you can't stand, scream to loud, or get to excited without being considered a problem. At a Bobcat game, you can do those same things without getting a funny look from security.

MJ may not be the ideal owner, but he is not that bad. As a fan, I rather have an owner who may be consider non exsistent that hires good people to run his organization, (ie Fed Whitfield, Rod Higgins, and Larry Brown) and is trying to be a winner by making trades (ie.Borris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, and Tyrus Thomas).
I don't want an owner who lets go good personnel (ie Bill Pollian), hires inexperience personnel ( ie John and Mark Richardson) to replace the good personnel, refuses to replace personnel that have failed to perform as of late (ie Jake Delhomme,John Fox, and Marty Hurney), makes little to no djustments to his team ( ie returning 20 of 22 starters last year).

I know that MJ has made mistakes as mentioned in the article. I am not trying to make Jerry out to be a horible owner (ie Al Davis). My point is that MJ should not call Jerry for advice on winning the fans over or become a fan friendly owner. I believe he has had enough bad experiences with the unfriendly owners the Bulls and Wizrds.
If he needs to call anyone about pleasing and keeping fans, it may be the only profesional team that has won a championship in this state, the Carolina Hurricanes. They may be down this year; but when they are a contender, the atmosphere and fan experience is considers one of the best in all sports.
MJ knows what wins fans over the most, winning. If MJ produces a winner, he won't have to give rides in his golf cart or send out personel hand written cards to win fans over.

Anonymous said...

Petition the NBA to return the "Hornets" nickname back to Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

The team is awash is red ink now. Changing the name, even bringing back the Hornets name, means buying new "everything". Jerseys, stationery, every promotional they have from signage to pens.

I'd much rather see that money buy even more good players or lower ticket prices.

Anonymous said...

Changing the name is a stupid idea. However, it is to be done, the only acceptable names would be a return to our roots Carolina Cougars or Charlotte Hornets. Bobcats is a fine name and was voted on before the franchise began playing. The top three names voted on by fans were the Bobcats, the Flight, and the Dragons. Since Flight and Dragons were stupid names, Bobcats was selected.

Hoagie58 said...

I'm betting that none of you who are suggesting a name change have ever even been to a game. Bobcats ARE indiginous to North Carolina (not that any of you are smart enough to do the 5 minutes of research needed to verify that), so there's no reason to change the name. And for the person who wants to change the name to "Flight", how freaking moronic is that?? It sounds like one of the NBADL team names- go ahead, look them up. Go Bobcats!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've been to every game since LB was named coach. And I bought Hornet season tickets the first day they went on sale in July 1986. Had them all 14 seasons the team was in Charlotte. So, I fill qualified to comment and say: NAME CHANGE is a MUST if you want to begin changing the image of this franchise and marketing it to the community.

People don't think of the Bobcat the animal. They think of Bobcat, the former owner.

Get rid of all that he was associated with.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yes, please change that name. But also please get off the "Flight" bandwagon. Reminds me of George Shinn wanting to name the Hornets the "Spirit". Very weak name.

Danman said...

Charlotte Flight or Charlotte Cougars or Carolina Cougars. Coors are great as is. Congrats to MJ. How about Zydrunas he worth going after or will he return to Cleveland?

Danman said...

typo..I meant colors not coors although coors is a good beer.

DWS44 said...

Yes...I've been to my share of Bobcats games, and Hornets games before that, and root for and support them. I still think the name Bobcats stinks. I don't care if they are are weasels and skunks, but that doesnt make them good team names either.

And as far as that "fan vote" that "resulted" in naming them Bobcats...I don't believe the "results" of that vote as far as I could throw Bob Johnson. He voted to name it after himself...we got stuck with it.

Anonymous said...

The flight sounds like a wnba team name. PLEASE NOT THIS NAME. So lame...

Anonymous said...

NAME CHANGE PLEASE!!! How about Charlotte is best option...make a deal with New Orleans so they change their name to the New Orleans Voodoo and take back the Hornet name YAAAAAAAY!

Anonymous said...

Change the name. It will always have the feel of Bob, and this city has to wash itself of that memory.