Each week during the 2022-23 NBA season, we’ll take a deep dive into some of the league’s biggest stories in an effort to determine whether the trends are based more in fact or if fiction is leading the way.
[Last time on Fact or Fiction: The East and West playoff pictures are coming into clear view]
Is Michael Jordan also the goat of the NBA’s worst current team owners?
Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of basketball. He made NBA a global brand. The Chicago Bulls sold for $16.2 million in 1985. Today he is worth $4.1 billion. Jordan is a primary reason for that growth. He deserves every cent the game could possibly pay him for a lifetime.
Jordan is also a leading businessman, serving as the NBA’s only non-white principal owner for nearly a decade after purchasing a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets in 2010 for $275 million. Six years later, he became the first billionaire athlete in the same year Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jordan’s philanthropy includes $10 million to Make-A-Wish America, $5 million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and millions of dollars donated to “organizations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice, and more education.” is included. Somewhere else.
The man is an icon. Perhaps icon.
News broke Thursday that Jordan plans to sell his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets, perhaps for another billion, while retaining a minority stake in the franchise. No word on whether he will “retain the title”Managing Member of Basketball Operations,” which he first assumed as a minority shareholder in 2006.
These caveats are necessary before we get to another conclusion that is less prominent in the grand scheme: Jordan’s record as an executive at the helm of a basketball operations department is abysmal.
He hired former Bulls teammate Rod Higgins as general manager in 2007, followed by Rich Cho in 2011 and fellow University of North Carolina alum Mitch Kupchak in 2018, but Jordan has always been the biggest voice in the room. Charlotte has been his NBA home since he took over control of basketball operations in 2006.
Kemba Walker is the only home run Jordan hit with the Hornets, and Charlotte drafted Bismack Biyombo two spots ahead of him. His batting average on first-round draft picks is worse than the .202 he hit with the Double-A Birmingham Barons. The draft record is somehow worse than this first glance:
2006: 3. Adam Morrison
2007: 22. Jared Dudley
2008: 9. DJ Augustin, 20. Alexis Ajinka
2009: 12. Gerald Henderson
2011: 7. Biyombo, 9. Walker
2012: 2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
2013: 4. Cody Zeller
2014: 9. Noah Vonleh, 26. PJ Hairston
2015: 9. Frank Kaminsky
2017: 11. Malik Sadhu
2018: 12. Bridge of Miles
2019: 12. PJ Washington
2020: 3. Lamelo Ball
2021: 11. James Booknight, 19. Kai Jones
2022: 15. Mark Williams
Only a few of them made it to a second contract with the Hornets.
Even though the 2006 draft wasn’t a huge blowout, Morrison remains one of the biggest moves of all time. Tyrus Thomas finished fourth in Chicago that year. Not to worry: Jordan traded a future first-round pick to acquire Thomas in 2010, gave him a five-year, $40 million contract and invoked a stretch provision for that deal within three seasons.
Jordan traded his No. 8 overall pick in 2007, when Joakim Noah was still on the board, in exchange for Jason Richardson, who Charlotte flipped a year later. with dudley — For Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary. Only Diaw lasted the year, and he eventually left on the Hornets because “it was hard to lose,
In 2008, Jordan drafted Augustin ninth overall, one spot ahead of Brooke López, and then traded another future first-round pick to grab Ajinkya at No. 20. Zeller and Vonleh when several future multi-time All-Stars were still available each season.
The coup may have occurred in 2015, when Jordan reportedly rejected an offer of four first-round selections from the Boston Celtics, including Jaylen Brown, in order to draft Kaminski.
Over the next four seasons, Jordan’s Hornets traded their first-round pick in 2016 for Marco Belinelli, drafted Monk at No. 11 in 2017 for Donovan Mitchell (No. 13) and Bam Adebayo (No. 14). 11 pick (Shai Gilgieus-Alexander) for No. 12 (Bridges) in 2018 and picked Washington immediately ahead of Tyler Herro in 2019. Too many unfortunate decisions for all of them are just bad luck.
Time will tell if Ball’s selection will provide relief to the Hornets from draft misery. He was an All-Star replacement in his second season. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy this season, finally breaking his right ankle last month. There are already rumors that he may request a trade to Charlotte in the future.
To build around Ball, the Hornets drafted Bocknight 11th overall and traded another protected first-round pick for Nabb Jones at No. 19. Neither has been a regular in the rotation for the 22-win team this season. Last June, Charlotte dropped from No. 13 (Jalen Duren) to No. 15, taking Williams, who was regularly listed as “DNP – Coaches’ Decision” until after Christmas. The Hornets will have two first-round picks this year in their Victor Vembanayama sweepstakes, so hope never dies.
Jordan regularly trades his second-round picks, and his Hornets are one of two teams that never pay the luxury tax. As a reminder: Jordan led the charge among a group of hard-line owners during the 2011 lockout, which reduced the players’ share of basketball-related income from 57% to 50%. As Howard Beck noted of the moment for The New York TimesIt was Jordan who, as a player during the previous lockout, told then-Washington Wizards owner Abe Poulin, “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team.”
If only profits could be an excuse for Charlotte’s dismal record in free agency. Any hopes that Jordan’s greatest asset as an owner would be his ability to lure players to the Hornets have long since subsided. Their hiring has delivered little more than distressed assets. The Hornets signed a hobbled Al Jefferson in 2013 away from the Utah Jazz. He cracked the All-NBA third team in his first season for Charlotte, the following year tore his meniscus in the same knee he had torn his ACL before and was never the same. Same.
Jordan’s free-agent signings from 2014–18 included the fading NBA dreams of Lance Stephenson, Jeremy Lin, Roy Hibbert, Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Parker. Their high-profile recruits end 2020 with the oft-injured Gordon Hayward (four years, $120 million!). There is also no free-agent diamond in the rough for the Hornets. Could have been Christian Wood if he hadn’t declined his minimum option in 2017.
If you didn’t like what you saw in the draft or free agency, then the trade hasn’t been any better. Emeka Okafor could have been a good replacement for Tyson Chandler in 2009 if the Hornets hadn’t dealt the future defensive player after one season for three guys who couldn’t make their rotation. Similarly, trading Gerald Wallace for two first-round picks could have worked had Charlotte not given up both picks in the coming years. Charlotte traded Henderson and Vonleh for Nicolas Batum in 2015, signed the Frenchman to a five-year, $120 million contract a year later and waived him before reaching the merciful end of the deal in 2021.
Finding trades of consequence during Jordan’s reign is a task. The acquisition of Stephen Jackson by Charlotte in 2009 resulted in his last two quality seasons, neither of which resulted in a single win in the playoffs. Mostly, the Hornets are trading one bad contract for another, often recycling players who previously failed in Charlotte.
The Jordan era has made three playoff appearances in 17 seasons, all first round exits, two of them sweeps. Their seven-year playoff drought will be the NBA’s longest when the Sacramento Kings reach the post season this year for the first time since 2006. Charlotte and the Minnesota Timberwolves are otherwise tied for the fewest playoff wins (three) since Jordan joined the Hornets’ ownership. group 17 years ago.
The New York Knicks are the only other team to have a single-digit playoff win when more than two-thirds of the league has 10 times as many postseason wins as the Hornets. We can only accept that Jordan is a better team owner than the Knicks’ James Dolan in every aspect other than fielding a winner.
fact: Jordan was as awe-inspiring as a great basketball player, he was also an equally bad team owner.