Michael Jordan’s tenure as an executive with the Charlotte Bobcats is exactly one regular season game old and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti —- insisting the Rip Hamilton-trading MJ “created a foundation for the Wizards’ current success,” — claims that no. 23 “looks lost and out of place with yet another franchise that isn’t the Bulls.”
As ”managing member of basketball operations” and a part-owner of the Bobcats, Jordan managed to make it to the season opener and watched them lose to the Indiana Pacers from his suite. But he will do much of his operating and decision-making from his North Shore mansion, the one with the ”23” across the gated barrier, which sounds like a sleepy way to bide time until commissioner David Stern finds him a full ownership opportunity.
So there he was in downtown Charlotte, while the Bulls were coming down from their Miami high with a night-after loss in Orlando, making what probably will be a rare visit. That would be something of a disservice to the locals, who deserve more frequent visits from their Carolina son and not distant evaluations from an invisible executive who watches games on his dish in Highland Park. When he does attend games at the Bobcats’ arena, he doesn’t intend to be public and doesn’t want the franchise using him as a marketing tool, which is like hiring Jenna Jameson for a bachelor party and telling her to model overcoats. ”I’m not going to be in a dog-and-pony show where you throw me out there and people buy tickets because I’m part of the franchise,” Jordan explained recently. ”I don’t want to be out there like a used-car salesman.” The team’s slogan this season is ”Get Closer to the Bobcats,” but the only way to get close to Jordan of late was to travel to England, where he held a Nike-related news conference and talked about his role with the Bobcats.
”It’s not a day-to-day responsibility,” Jordan said. ”It’s more about overseeing that the people in place make sound business decisions and basketball decisions. I understand that portion of the business, and I’m just going to lend my hand to that. What’s being asked of me is to help build a team.”
Seems beneath him, doesn’t it? I understand Jordan wants to be in Chicago to watch his sons play ball at Loyola Academy, where Jeffrey is a senior and Marcus is a sophomore.
Which means the Bobcats, owned by Jordan friend Bob Johnson and officially run by general manager and coach Bernie Bickerstaff, often will hear from Jordan by conference call. This was pretty much the drill when the Washington Wizards hired him to run their basketball operations, took advantage when he got the itch to play again, then ran him out after they had used and abused him.
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg profiled former Bullets mega-heckler turned local pol Robin Ficker. While Ficker didn’t have much of substance to offer regarding the current Wizards (the retired Barkley baiter’s never attended a Wizards game), at least one of his old stunts deserves acknowledgement.
Ficker likes to tell of the time he brought Pat Riley’s book on leadership to a game and systematically ripped out pages of the book during timeouts, throwing the scraps in the air. Riley was in the huddle, demanding respect, and Ficker was creating a Leadership Shower of his Leadership Principles.
“Some people said there were two Pat Rileys,” Ficker recalled, “because I would make him beside himself.”