Good morning, frents …
The California governor says the state will be ready for pro sports to return without fans in June. Same for New York. One would assume Illinois can’t be far behind.
Given the past two months, it’s hard to get my hopes up. And yet I can’t help it. Finding ways to fill this newsletter the past 10 weeks has been fun, but it’s time we get back to writing and talking about the games we love once they return.
Please let this be it!
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Back to life, back to reality
Sports may be on the verge of returning, but I can’t quit the MJ content just yet.
I don’t think I’m alone, either. Monday brought another wave of good articles including KC Johnson talking with Jerry Reinsdorf about the final episode of “The Last Dance” (“I was not pleased”), the Crazy Pacers Fan Lady doing a media tour and Dennis Rodman’s month with the Mavericks getting the oral history we didn’t know we needed.
Eventually we’ll go back to where we were before the lockdown. We’ll be following live sports and talking about them instead of watching a 10-part documentary together.
And Michael Jordan? Well, he’ll go back to his regular job of being the chairman of the Charlotte Hornets, a job he has not proven himself particularly adept at.
In fact, he’s been terrible.
We just don’t talk much about it and it doesn’t look like anyone’s about to start.
“The Last Dance” ended before Jordan became a Washington Wizard and so we didn’t see his failures on the floor or in the front office there.
Nor did we see him buying into the Charlotte franchise in 2006 or becoming its controlling owner in 2010, the NBA’s first former player to reach that level.
In his 14 seasons with the Hornets, the team has …
- … gone 464-651 for a .416 winning percentage.
- … made the playoffs only three times.
- … basically become the NBA team that everyone forgets exists.
Jordan started off his personnel decisions by picking Adam Morrison third overall in 2006. With the exception of taking Kemba Walker ninth overall in 2011, Jordan’s selections have been bad. He’s picked names like Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Frank Kaminsky (which hurts me to admit as a Badger) while passing on future gamechangers like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson.
Look, plenty of other teams passed on those guys, too, but it’s worth noting the one player he did hit on — Kemba — left after reportedly being lowballed by the team and then traded to the Celtics for pennies on the dollar last summer.
Fourteen years into his tenure and Jordan has no on-court achievements to show for it. If and when the NBA does come back, the Kemba-less Hornets will have a 23-42 record, seven games behind Orlando for the eighth spot in the East (though one game in front of the Bulls).
Does it bother Jordan that the team he owns has never come close to a title?
Or that he’s seen as the South’s version of Jerry Reinsdorf, a billionaire chairman who’s content to keep revenues high and the costs low? (The Hornets are one of two NBA teams that have never had to pay the luxury tax.)
If he does, we’re still waiting to hear about how much this is hurting him.
It’s a strange disconnect considering the killer version of Jordan we just revisited the last five weeks wouldn’t stand for this. Maybe being a global icon and found of the cash-printing Jordan brand is enough at this point in his life, but it’s hard to imagine that’s true
What’s weird is that there’s no real criticism of Jordan’s track record coming from anywhere else. Those of us in Chicago have our own problems to deal with so he’s not going to get it from us. The national expectations for the Bobcats/Hornets have always been low so he doesn’t get it from there, either.
That leaves Hornets fans and I assume they’re mad when they’re not watching college basketball. (Side note: I don’t think I’ve ever meet an actual Hornets fan, at least if we’re not counting kids who owned purple-and-teal Starter jackets at my middle school in 1992.)
The irony here is that Jordan spent his playing career cutting down Jerry Krause, yet he hasn’t come close to identifying the type of talent that Krause gave him for two separate three-peats.
Organizations might not solely win championships in the NBA, but Jordan is proving there’s a little more truth to that statement that he would ever like to admit.
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• ESPN is showing “Game 6: The Movie” Wednesday night at 8 pm CT. It’s the first time the final game of Jordan’s Bulls career will be shown in hi-def and will feature never-before-seen footage from NBA Entertainment cameras. (ESPN)
• “Jerry Reinsdorf should never live this down.” Tom Ziller with a great take on the Bulls owner in the wake of The Last Dance. (Good Morning, It’s Basketball)
• Hub Arkush on the complicated legacy of Michael McCaskey. (670 The Score)
• Happy 40th anniversary to Robert Feder. The GOAT! (Feder)
• A brief history of wanting a fifth star for Chicago’s flag. (Chicago Mag)
• Ditka’s downtown restaurant is closing for good. (NBC Chicago)
• “It’s go time”: Dan Wetzel on the return of pro sports. (Yahoo Sports)
That’s it’s for today. Have an excellent Tuesday. As always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.
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