In May 2010, Michael Jordan made NBA history by becoming the first former player to be a majority governor of a franchise. The Chicago Bulls legend bought the Charlotte Hornets (they were called the Bobcats back then) from Bob Johnson for $275 million.
Jordan became the second Black majority governor of a major pro sports team. He was presumably excited to build a winning franchise in Charlotte and use his experience to help the players understand what it takes to win.
Basketball fans always wanted to know if Jordan practiced with the team and gave them pointers on the hardwood. The six-time champion used to play one-on-one with the Hornets players, but he doesn’t anymore for a couple of reasons.
Michael Jordan once destroyed Stephen Jackson in practice
During the 2010-11 season, Jordan came down from his suite and scrimmaged with the team. Stephen Jackson, the leading scorer, started talking trash to His Airness, which wasn’t a smart move.
Jordan became irate and destroyed all of the players, but he focused on Jackson and played him in a testy game of one-on-one. According to Eduardo Najera, MJ beat Jackson and asked, “How does the leather taste in your mouth?” after every shot he made. The Bulls icon had no explosion in his legs. However, he still had his patented jump shot and post-up game, and Jackson was no match for the Hall of Famer.
Now that he’s older and wiser as a governor, Jordan no longer plays one-on-one against his players. However, it’s not because he can’t win.
Michael Jordan doesn’t want to “demolish” his players’ confidence
During an interview from Paris in 2015, Jordan said he doesn’t play one-on-one against his players because he doesn’t want to “demolish” their confidence. The five-time MVP was in his early 50s and was confident he could beat his players, which is why he chose not to play them.
“I don’t want to do that and demolish their confidence,” Jordan said. “So, I stay away from them. I let them think they’re good. But I’m too old to do that anyway.”
Jordan is one of the most competitive individuals in the world. As we learned in the Last Dance docuseries, the six-time Finals MVP hates to lose and is a fierce trash-talker. With that said, it’s probably a good thing that he doesn’t play his players one-on-one. His job as the majority governor is to help them grow as players and establish more confidence, not destroy their spirit.
The Hornets haven’t won a playoff series since MJ bought the team
The Hornets haven’t gotten past the first round of the playoffs since Jordan bought the team. During the shortened 2011-12 season, Charlotte went 7-59, and the media and fans heavily criticized MJ.
In the summer of 2019, Kemba Walker left the Hornets to sign with the Boston Celtics. Jordan and general manager Mitch Kupchak acquired Terry Rozier from the Celtics in a sign-and-trade deal. Still, the departure of Walker signaled that Charlotte was headed for a rebuild.
The Hornets did strike gold in the 2020 NBA draft, though. They selected LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick, and he had a stellar rookie season, averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists. Had he and Gordon Hayward not missed significant time due to injury, the Hornets may have made the playoffs this season for the first time since 2016.
Jordan is striving to bring a championship to Charlotte and win a seventh title. However, the Hornets have a long way to go before they can be considered contenders. While the team has a solid core in Ball, Miles Bridges, Rozier, Devonte’ Graham, PJ Washington, and Hayward, it needs some superstars to join the party.
Despite having Jordan as the majority owner, the Hornets will likely never get superstars to sign with them in free agency since Charlotte isn’t a big-market city. With that said, Kupchak has to trade for big-time players if he wants to get star talent around Ball.