Nov 21, 2020

It's Time to Admit that Michael Jordan is One of the Worst Owners in Sports

Omar Abubakar

o, we aren't talking about Michael Jordan the player, we are strictly analyzing him as an owner, and its without a shadow of a doubt that he is one of the worst owners in sports.

Yes, I said it.

What is even more surprising, is that whenever major basketball media outlets such as ESPN talk about one of the worst owners in the NBA, it is always names such as James Dolan of the New York Knicks, or Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns, or even Vivek Ranadive of the Sacremento Kings that get mentioned before Jordan. Talk shows such as ESPN's First Take mainly have Dolan as their punching bag, when the truth is that Jordan isn't much better as an owner.

In Jordan's recent documentary "The Last Dance", the Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause was heavily criticized without having a chance to hear his perspective because he passed away before the documentary was made. Jordan doesn't even come close to Krause when it comes building a championship contending team, and that should be as clear as ever now.

Charles Barkley, who was once one of Jordan's closest friends, spoke the truth and criticized Jordan's track record as an owner on both on live TV and radio. Unfortunately, this ended their 20 plus year friendship, and according to Barkley, they haven't spoken in years. Barkley points to Jordan's inner circle as being part of the problem:

"Listen, if you're famous, and Michael, at one point was one of the most famous people in the world, everybody around you is either on the payroll or letting you buy drinks and dinner and flying around on your private jet. Very few of your friends are going to be honest with you. And that's very hard for any celebrity, but especially someone of his stature".

For some odd reason, Jordan's immense basketball IQ as the best player of all time has not translated into his time as a talent evaluator. There is now a track record of nearly 20 years where we can now analyze Jordan's moves as an owner, and his teams have not only never sniffed true championship contention, but they have constantly overpaid for players that didn't deserve it. Last night's signing of Gordon Hayward is just a recent head scratcher of a list of bad moves that all occurred under Jordan's watch.

Jordan's Terrible Moves Began Right When He First Started

To this day, nearly 20 years later, picking Kwame Brown as the number 1 overall pick in 2001 is still regarded as one of the worst moves they have ever made as a franchise. On July 16th, 2001, Sports Illustrated reported a story that the decision to choose Kwame Brown number 1 in that draft was based off a 1 on 1 game between Brown and Tyson Chandler. When Brown won the game, he reportedly walked over to Jordan with a promise:

"If you draft me first, I'll never disappoint you".

Well, we all know how that turned out.

More Head Scratching Moves

The nightmare didn't end there. Jordan also played a role in trading Rip Hamilton who became a force for the Detroit Pistons for Jerry Stackhouse.

in 2006, when Jordan became part owner of the then Charlotte Bobcats with the final say on basketball decisions, he took on DeSagna Diop's $7 million salary to warm the bench, and even though size was a premium in the 2000's, Diop as a player didn't offer anything else of value.

What's worse is that in the 2006 NBA draft, he picked the 6"7 Adam Morrison as the third overall pick which lives in infamy, instead of the rookie of the year Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay. This was a disaster of a mistake, and it wasn't hard to see that Morrison's great college career with Gonzaga wouldn't fully translate into the NBA. Halfway into Morrison's rookie season, he lost his starting job, primarily because of his horrific defense and his inability to make shots; he shot 37% from the field, and his career went downhill from there.

Lastly, Gerald Wallace was a good player for the Bobcats, and he was someone that legitimately wanted to be there. He was an all star in 2010, and is one of the 3 players in league history to average at least two steals and two blocks per game over the duration of an entire NBA season, which lead to Wallace earning him a spot on the NBA's All Defensive First team. Jordan knew what Wallace brought to the table, but thought that cutting payroll was more important than anything else. Jordan traded away Wallace for 3 role players and 2 first round draft picks, in which Jordan highlighted that the move was about looking to the future with developing young talent. Nearly a decade later, and its clear it was an awful move.

From Left to Right: LA Clippers Owner Steve Balmer, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and Charlotte Hornets Owner Michael Jordan

Moves in Recent Memory

Firstly, the one great move Jordan did make was drafting Kemba Walker, who was drafted 9th overall, and exceeded expectations by having several great seasons and becoming the franchise leader all time in scoring. However, in the summer of 2019, Walker was interested in resigning with the Hornets by reportedly taking a hometown discount and be the heart of a franchise that he played for in his entire career up until that point. Unfortunately, Jordan gave him an offer he couldn't accept, where Walker was lowballed by a reported $60 million.

In the end, a sign and trade was done in which Walker went to the Celtics in exchange for Terry Rozier, a far less impactful player, but it was a cost cutting move that was nothing new for Jordan's Hornets; the team was below the tax threshold by over $20 million at that point.

Secondly, if you're a Charlotte Hornet fan, you have definitely expressed disdain towards Nicolas Batum's ridiculous contract of 5 years, $120 million; a move in which Jordan was responsible for. At the time in 2016, players were getting overpaid everywhere, and Batum was coming off a season in which he was the team leader in assists and the team's second highest scorer.

However, in just a few short years, its clear that this contract has become nothing short of a nightmare.

Injury issues aside, Batum's usage rate has become remarkably low for a player of his contract. Every single player on the Hornet's roster had a higher usage rate by the end of the 2018-19 NBA season with the exception of Bismack Biyombo, who is a center that catches lobs and grabs rebounds. Yes, you read that right.

His field goal attempts per 36 minutes were a mere 8.6, and this is coming from a player that is supposed to be a number two or three option on the team.

By all accounts, this was a terrible move on Jordan's part. To make matters worse, since Batum opted into his player option for the upcoming 20-21 NBA season, the Hornets decided to waive and stretch the $27 million owed to Batum by giving him $9 million in the next three seasons instead of the $27 million in just one season. This move would have been a smart move, but it was followed up with the most recent signing that the Hornets made on November 20th, 2020, which made moves on twitter.

Jordan created cap space off the Batum nightmare to take on another massive deal for a player in Hayward who is not bad by any means, but definitely has durability issues, and this move is just another example of Jordan not being competitive as an owner, and being content with running a treadmill team.; not too good to be worth mentioning in the championship hunt, and not bad enough to be able to consistently get a high lottery pick. It is the worst position to be in as a team.

The verdict is still out for Malik Monk, he has the talent to be impactful but he hasn't brought it all together as of yet, and LaMelo Ball going to the Hornets was a no brainer.

Woeful Team Performances

The Hornets as a team have never paid the luxury tax, being one of two teams to never do so in the entire league, creating the reputation as a cheap franchise with cost cutting procedures being the norm for the organization; unwilling to spend on players that deserve it, and overpaying for those that don't deserve it.

Jordan is heading into his 15th year as the owner of the Hornets, and the team has only completed seasons with records over .500 three times in fourteen full seasons. The team's winning percentage with Jordan as the owner is .416, and the team only made the playoffs three times, not once making it out of the first round.

Jordan as a player was ultra competitive, hence where is that same drive to win as an owner? He seems happy with the status quo, and its time the entire league talked about it, not just little courageous voices in the background.

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