Michael Jordan knows a thing or two about winning and defending NBA championships. After all, he won six of them with the Chicago Bulls, four of those when the Bulls were reigning champs. Now the governor of the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan weighed in recently on this season’s title chase.
For all his success as a player, Jordan’s time in the executive suite has been mostly fruitless. He famously bombed as vice president of basketball operations with the Washington Wizards. So much so that he gave up the job, opting to go back into uniform in a vain attempt to lead the pu pu platter of a roster he assembled as a player. His tenure in Charlotte has been similarly devoid of winning moments.
Michael Jordan, the executive, has not been a glowing success story
Through his relationship with Nike and the lucrative Jordan Brand subsidiary, Michael Jordan has assembled a massive $1.6 billion net worth. He became the majority shareholder of the Hornets (then known as the Bobcats) in March 2010. When he sold a minority stake in 2019, the team’s valuation was $1.5 billion, per Forbes.
In 11 full seasons as Charlotte’s governor, the franchise has reached the playoffs just twice and has yet to advance beyond the first round. The Hornets’ last postseason appearance was in 2016. Over that span, Charlotte is 353–506 in the regular season, a paltry .411 winning percentage.
In the lockout-shortened 2011–12, Jordan’s team had the worst winning percentage in NBA history, posting a .106 mark after going 7–59. That was slightly more putrid than the Philadelphia 76ers anti-heroics in 1972–73, when the Sixers went 9–73 for a .110 mark, still the worst for an 82-game slate.
He drafted Kwame Brown first overall while with the Wizards. In Charlotte, he pushed to take Adam Morrison with the No. 3 pick in 2006.
Things are looking up a bit for the Hornets. Last season, second-overall pick LaMelo Ball earned Rookie of the Year honors, and Charlotte qualified for the play-in tournament before getting torched by the Indiana Pacers.
But to be fair, Jordan didn’t list his team among the contenders to watch this season, either.
Jordan believes in the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks
During a recent appearance on NBC’s Today show, Michael Jordan listed some of the teams he thinks bear watching in the NBA championship chase this season:
“It’s hard to knock out Milwaukee. I’m a firm believer that if you’re a champion, someone’s gonna have to knock you off the pedestal. Brooklyn in the East, you got Miami’s changed. You know, my old team Chicago made some big, big changes. They may compete in the East as well. The Lakers are gonna come back. The Clippers are gonna come back.”
As is the case every season, Jordan acknowledged that health would be a determining factor.
“Whoever stays healthy, battles COVID-19 issues that they may have in the course of the year; it’s gonna give that team the best chance,” Jordan said. “Staying healthy is our biggest thing for us. We gotta stay healthy.”
Injuries played a significant role during last year’s playoffs. Several teams dealt with banged-up players, including the champion Bucks, who lost Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to a frightening-looking knee injury during the Eastern Conference Finals.
If Michael Jordan were a betting man, he might look somewhere besides Milwaukee
Per Oddsshark.com, the Brooklyn Nets have the best odds at winning the NBA title at plus-250. The Los Angeles Lakers are next at plus-375.
The Bucks and the Golden State Warriors share the third-best odds, a plus-900 wager. Those are the only teams rated as better than plus-1,500.
So Michael Jordan, known to place a wager or two in his time, isn’t backing the bookmakers’ favorite.
The Phoenix Suns lost in the Finals last season and are at plus-1,500. The Atlanta Hawks, losers in the Eastern Conference Finals, are a plus-3,500 bet, and the Los Angeles Clippers enter with plus-1,600 odds even with Kawhi Leonard’s status unsure.
Neither of the top seeds got past the conference semifinals last season, and they enter 2021–22 with the same odds. Both the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers are at plus-1,600.
But if longshots are more your style, five teams are giving plus-50,000 odds. There’s a reason for that, of course. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder finished last season as the five worst teams in the NBA.
As for Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets? They are solidly in the middle of the pack at plus-10,000. You can get the same odds with the New Orleans Pelicans, Indiana Pacers, and Memphis Grizzlies. Yeah, good luck with that.