LOS ANGELES — This is all you need to know about Michael Jordan’s latest career move: Nixon left Washington with more credibility.
There’s no circumventing the implications:
In nearly four seasons of controlling and rearranging the self-centered agenda/Wizards employees, Jordan registered a 110-179 record and failed to crash the playoff party despite suiting up for the last two seasons.
He came in like a gangbanger and uncouthly fired coach Gar Heard, never should have hired the vastly overwhelmed (fourth or fifth choice) Leonard Hamilton — noted for his college recruiting certainly not his coaching — and replaced him with Doug Collins whom he didn’t like worth a damn when he played for him in Chicago and whom the players rebelled against in Detroit.
Jordan covertly clashed with members of Abe Pollin’s faction and took the shots (as well as minutes; you didn’t think Collins was in charge of substitutions, did you?) of teammates while taking pot shots at them . . . expressly professional strategy if you’re hoping to convert the selfish and improve team morale.
In other words, when the regular season ended, the Wizards were in no better shape than when Jordan showed up and was hailed as their savoir . . . unless Kwame Brown is overcome by pangs of responsibility and falls madly in love with labor and Jared Jeffries develops as wonderfully as expected.
You can’t even say Jordan did well by dumping Rod Strickland and Mitch Richmond (who couldn’t have exercised built-in escape clauses that cost the club $10 million?) and depositing Juwan Howard’s obscene contract in Dallas.
Be honest, whom would you rather have paid this season, Howard ($20.6 million), or Christian Laettner, Etan Thomas, Loy (still on payroll for $5.3 million) Vaught?
It’s not as if the Wiz didn’t get back comparable undesirable salaries. Howard’s inside scoring and rebounding may have been the difference between the playoffs and a sixth straight lottery.
Uninformed Jordan Joysticks gloat about how Washington’s cap space has been seriously enhanced under his supervision. Really!
Should Jerry Stackhouse wisely refrain from playing out the final two years ($6.9 million/$7.4 million) of his contract the Wiz will have roughly $5 million (a tad more than the mid-level exception) to spend on a free agent. Meanwhile, Howard’s contract is up. Meaning, they would have had $20 million-$25 million to squander on a one or two established starters.
Yet, in spite of Jordan’s patently unsuccessful, shortsighted (virtual) sovereignty and dissension reverberating throughout the organization that had his faction’s fingerprints all over it, he acts as if he were dry gulched by Honest Abe.
As if ownership’s refusal to re-commit to him took him by complete surprise.
Fact is, if Jordan truly isn’t giving us one of his patented head fakes, if he really didn’t see his dismissal coming, it only proves he’s utterly out of touch with reality.
The nerve of Pollin! Imagine Jordan being treated the same as every other executive who doesn’t produce. If you don’t count Unseld. Think about it, why would Pollin commit to someone with Jordan’s record?
When Michael retired and the 82 straight sellouts were guaranteed to end, he abruptly lost all his leverage.
You better believe Pollin used him? Welcome to the fiendish world of big business. Aside from the financial reward, Honest Abe no doubt got great satisfaction from making mounds of money ($30 million) off Jordan.
Not that long ago, if you recall, during hostile negotiations between the NBA and the Players Association, Jordan blasted Pollin, stating he should sell his franchise if he couldn’t economically compete for talent.
Pollin may be 79, but I suspect he also remembers being publicly embarrassed by MJ Superstar.
Fact is, Jordan now possesses something more powerful on his resume than his persona . . . his personnel performance and unless he plans on suiting up for his next suitor (Robert Johnson) he’s in no position to make any organization more winnable or watchable.
If that’s the case, then why is the Charlotte owner so eager to form a partnership with a mere management mortal whose celebrated skills and six championship rings can’t logically influence the wealthy to invest in seats and suites?
If you want to reach out and touch Jordan that bad, it’s a lot cheaper to lay out $15,000 and hang around his Las Vegas summer fantasy camp for four days.
Why, indeed, is Johnson so intent on turning over basketball operations to Jordan? (I thought he said at his inaugural press conference his son would be charge? Or was that Ed Tapscott?) I think I know the answer.
When Johnson bought into the league he didn’t realize he paid, er, overpaid, $300 million for the expansion franchise. Once it dawned on him, he decided to recoup as much as possible.
So, if Jordan’s buying, he’s selling. The question is, friend or no friend, will Jordan go deep into his pocket without buying a majority share of the team?
George Shinn offered him a minority interest in the Hornets (and they had some important assets) when they were in Charlotte and Jordan passed. The same could happen here.
Two more things: A Washington Post report contends Jordan is owed $10 million as part of his go-away-please-package. How can that be?
I thought he divested of his stock/ownership before returning to the court. If accurate, it sure sounds like a conspicuous salary cap violation.
If accurate, might the league — the gatekeeper of the truth and significant profiteer from Jordan’s comeback — become an indicted co-conspirator in the outrage?
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