Michael Jordan finally defended himself and the Bobcats Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell, taking on former Bobcats coach Larry Brown for comments Brown had made on Dan Patrick's national radio show.
No, not everything Jordan said was perfect. And not everything he has done this week has been perfect, either -- showing up at a hockey game in Chicago is not exactly the way you inspire confidence in your leadership of a team that is one game away from the worst winning percentage in NBA history.
But Jordan, as usual when he talks, made a lot of sense. The problem is he doesn't talk enough. He and the Bobcats have decided Jordan should basically do interviews so rarely -- pretty much only at the beginning of each NBA season, the end of each season and at some point around the NBA draft with a few rare exceptions -- that the average fan often wonders how committed or engaged Jordan really is with the team he owns.
I've been around him enough to know that he is committed. He can't stand losing. Never has been able to. James Worthy once beat him in 2 out of 3 games of one-on-one they played in Chapel Hill when both were in school at UNC, and Jordan has nagged Worthy to play him again for 30 years so he can get even. (Worthy, wisely, always said "No.")
I'm sure MJ is inwardly embarrassed that the Bobcats (7-58) have lost 22 games in a row.
But Jordan doesn't communicate that enough. He's a huge asset to the Bobcats, as well as their primary owner, and when the team looks like it's in crisis like this one does the top guy has to step to the plate more often to calm the waters.
Jordan did Wednesday, offering a few reassuring words to Bobcat fans.
"This was going to be a trying year – we knew that,” Jordan said in the interview. “But did we want to chase the most Ping-Pong balls (in the May 30 draft lottery)? No way. “Ever since I’ve owned the team (buying control from founder Bob Johnson in 2010), I think we’ve made some very positive moves on the business side. We had to make a difficult decision to turn over the (basketball) talent. This year the talent we had didn’t respond, but that doesn’t cause me to turn my back on the plan.”
The talent didn't respond? Well, that's a nice way of putting it. The Bobcats are horrid, having gone 0-for-April.
Some of Brown's comments sounded petulant on Patrick's show while others rang true. Jordan came off in his own comments as the one who sounded more reasonable.
That's one of MJ's gifts. He's a fine communicator -- when he chooses to be.
He just doesn't choose to be often enough. And when he doesn't, some other noise always is going to fill that void.
If you don't control the message, ultimately the message will control you. If Jordan's advisors really do have his ear, they should tell him that and get him in front of this team from a PR standpoint more often.
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