Michael Jordan has a lot of bravado. He could not become one of the greatest players of all time if he did not exude a sense of confidence in himself and his teammates.
That finger-wagging, tongue-sticking-out style of play that he exhibited on the court moved off it as he was always a stalwart for the player’s cause during his playing days. It was, as Tom Ziller of SBNation detailed earlier this week, Jordan who told Wizards owner Abe Pollin that if he could not “make it work economically,” he should sell the team in 1998. It was Jordan who joined with Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller to push for decertification in 1995.
So you cannot blame several players for feeling Jordan has turned his back on the players and started singing a different tune now that he is an owner. Jordan has become one of the owners at the forefront and leading a small group of owners who feel a 50/50 deal is too generous and would prefer to see the league hold firm at 47 percent of basketball-related income.
Players are very admittedly hurt as Nick Young, Klay Thompson and Paul George took to Twitter to vent frustrations at the former player.
Why do they seem so upset? A Chicago Tribune article from 1995 probably depicts Jordan the player’s stance on labor negotiations:
“I can see Clyde Drexler, I can see Charles Barkley, I can see David Robinson and I can see all these stars saying, ‘Great, it’s a good deal.’ Yeah, it’s a good deal for us — for the superstars. But for these young players who are going to move forward and make this league and make the game of basketball as popular as it is today, it’s not a good deal for them. That’s why we’re making this stand.”
Remember, this was a time when there were no caps on salaries and no rookie wage scale. Both of those eventually got implemented and the league moved on.
So now that Jordan has become the Charlotte Bobcats’ majority owner, it is somewhat surprising that he has done an about face. Or maybe not.
The Bobcats, despite a gorgeous new arena and the relatively short history of being an expansion franchise, are not one of the successful teams in the league. Jordan officially bought the team two years ago and has overseen both a Playoff appearance and the team’s first rebuilding effort. The Bobcats were ranked 21st in the league in attendance according to Basketball-Reference.
Jordan is not someone who likes to lose and he certainly did not expect to take over a business that was bleeding money. Like many of the owners claiming losses, you can understand their desire to be profitable.
But many would argue the players have already given concessions to try to cure these concerns and now the owners are looking to the players to cure all their ills rather than fixing it themselves through restraint and smart management.
Jordan is a new owner, but has been in management on and off since his retirement. He is familiar with many of these issues. And becoming a manager gives him a different perspective on the issues that he may not have had as a player. Players do not deal with the finances of running a team on a day-to-day basis like owners and managers do. It makes sense that Jordan’s perspective has changed and he has much different interests to satisfy.
That is a natural growth.
But it does beg the question: with so many former players in management — mostly as coaches and general managers — do they play any role in helping find an agreement? Jordan is the only player with a position of power among the owners and it is clear where he stands.
It appears, to the players, Jordan has turned to the dark side. “Jordan the Player” is long gone. Now, he appears to be a weapon and a leader on the owners’ side.