Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is universally recognized as the greatest basketball player in NBA history. He won six titles and six Finals MVPs with the Chicago Bulls and went 6-0 in the Finals.
Since buying the Hornets, Jordan hasn’t experienced much success. However, MJ proved he’s the true GOAT in the summer of 2019 by saving the Charlotte franchise and ruining the Boston Celtics at the same time.
Michael Jordan didn’t give Kemba Walker the money he wanted
Michael Jordan loves Kemba Walker. The Bulls legend and the All-Star point guard have a very close relationship, with Walker calling Jordan his “big brother.”
However, Jordan knew it wasn’t a smart investment to give Walker the money he was looking for in the summer of 2019. Walker qualified for the $221 million super-maximum contract over five seasons, but he was open to signing a deal less than that amount. The Hornets’ best offer to Walker was just under $160 million over five years.
Walker wound up signing with the Celtics on a four-year, $142 million max deal. Meanwhile, Jordan and the Hornets gave Terry Rozier a three-year, $58 million contract and completed a sign-and-trade deal with Boston involving Walker and Rozier.
While Kemba Walker and the Celtics reached the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals and Michael Jordan and the Hornets missed the playoffs in 2019-20, MJ rescued Charlotte’s long-term future by letting Walker go and wrecked Boston’s title aspirations along the way.
LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier are playing well for Michael Jordan, while Kemba Walker is struggling in Boston
Kemba Walker dealt with a nagging left knee injury for most of the 2019-20 season. The ailment must still be there, as the Celtics guard is struggling in 2020-21. The four-time All-Star is shooting 37.1% from the field while averaging 17.0 points per game.
On Sunday versus the New Orleans Pelicans, Walker shot 23.8% overall and 1-of-12 from beyond the arc in the Celtics’ five-point loss on the road. Boston blew a huge lead to New Orleans, dropping to 15-15 on the season.
As Walker struggles for the Celtics while making max money, LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier are flourishing for Michael Jordan’s Hornets. Rozier is averaging 21.1 points per game on the season, while Ball is putting up 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 6.1 assists.
By not bringing an aging Walker back during the offseason of 2019, Jordan gave his organization a better chance of having long-term success. Adding a younger scorer in Rozier and compiling a poor enough record in 2019-20 to draft a future star in Ball with the third overall pick in the 2020 draft will help the Hornets speed up their rebuild in the post-Walker era.
Michael Jordan and the Hornets are only a half-game behind Kemba Walker and the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings. It will be fascinating to see where these two teams end up once the season ends.
The NBA would be abuzz if the Celtics and Hornets met in the playoffs
It would be wildly entertaining if the Hornets and Celtics played each other in the first round of the 2021 playoffs. Knowing the type of competitor he is, Michael Jordan would love to face Kemba Walker in the postseason.
Celtics fans are growing impatient with Walker, who needs to play better if Boston wants to go on a deep playoff run. Meanwhile, Jordan and Hornets supporters like what they see from LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.