Michael Jordan is not only arguably the greatest basketball player in NBA history, but he’s also the first former player to be a majority governor of an NBA franchise. The Chicago Bulls legend bought the Charlotte Hornets in 2010.
The Hornets haven’t won a playoff series since Jordan became the majority governor. However, things are trending in the right direction after his latest investment proved to be a good one.
LaMelo Ball won Rookie of the Year for Michael Jordan and the Hornets
LaMelo Ball rewarded Jordan and the Hornets for drafting him with the third overall pick in the 2020 draft by winning the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year Award. He also made the All-Rookie First Team.
In 51 games as a rookie, Ball averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists while shooting 43.6% from the field, 35.2% from beyond the arc, and 75.8% from the free-throw line. He recorded seven double-doubles and one triple-double, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to rack up a triple-double.
Other than Kemba Walker, Jordan’s draft picks in Charlotte have been disappointing. That’s why Hornets fans were relieved to see Ball play well and win Rookie of the Year. Although the team missed the playoffs after getting blown out by the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament, they certainly have a bright future with Ball leading the way.
Jordan accomplished everything he aspired to during his NBA career, winning six titles, six Finals MVPs, and five regular-season MVPs. However, his success as a basketball player hasn’t translated to being the best majority governor.
The Hornets have won three playoff games since Michael Jordan bought them
Jordan bought the Hornets in May of 2010. Since then, the franchise has only won three playoff games. They took the Miami Heat to seven games in the first round of the 2016 playoffs.
The Hornets have missed the playoffs five straight seasons. For someone as competitive as Jordan is, it must be killing him to see other teams have success and his franchise struggle year after year. That’s why the Bulls icon gave Gordon Hayward $120 million free agency last summer because he was desperate to get more talent in Charlotte.
Had Hayward and Ball not gotten hurt in the regular season, the Hornets may have made the playoffs. They were in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings before Ball underwent wrist surgery. Hayward appeared in 44 games in 2020-21 and averaged 19.6 points. However, he missed the final 24 games due to a right foot sprain.
Despite arguably being the most popular player of all time, Jordan won’t have success getting superstar players to play for the Hornets since Charlotte isn’t a big market city. The Hall of Famer likely understands that, which is why he has to build through the draft and hope players such as Ball, Miles Bridges, Malik Monk, Devonte’ Graham, and PJ Washington turn into All-Stars.
Ball has the highest potential to become an All-Star for Jordan and the Hornets. In the wake of the Boston Celtics trading Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder just two years after acquiring him from Charlotte in a sign-and-trade deal involving Terry Rozier, it’s evident Jordan made the right move by not giving Walker a long-term deal in 2019.
What is the next step for LaMelo Ball?
Ball has many things to work on this summer. He must get stronger, become a more efficient shooter, and understand defenses better. The youngster had 145 turnovers in 51 games.
Jordan must be proud of Ball for the way he represented the Hornets franchise. Now, His Airness is hopeful that his young point guard won’t get complacent and will be motivated to have an All-Star sophomore season and lead the Hornets back to the playoffs.
MJ always added something new to his game during his playing career, so he’s certainly looking for his players to do the same.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.