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July 2006
Bobcats Need to Become Part of this Community!
By John Paul Galles

Wow! Michael Jordan has become an owner and manager of the Charlotte Bobcats! Isn’t that exciting? Certainly, the initial impact of having Michael Jordan in the ownership group provides Bobcat fans with some feeling and expectation that the team will become more competitive and hopefully, more successful. While no one believed that this team would find instant success in the NBA, nearly everyone wanted to see a more competitive team and at least a more aggressive spirit. At the same time, it is most important that this team make a connection with the community. We need to encourage Bob Johnson and Michael Jordan to move to Charlotte and become part of this community. They need to become part of this community!

Having grown up in Wilmington and playing for the UNC Tarheels, Michael Jordan is known for being a native North Carolinian. As an owner and managing member of basketball operations, he is expected to have an office in Charlotte, but, from all reports, Michael Jordan will continue to make Chicago his home. We will have to wait and see how visible and how involved he will actually be in the Bobcats organization. We will also have to see how successful he will be. If history offers any indication of the future, one thing for sure is that Michael Jordan will become incredibly involved in the Bobcats.

When Abe Pollin, the owner of the Washington Wizards, fired Michael Jordan as he retired from playing for the third time, he told Jordan that he could not return as the team’s CEO. Originally hired as CEO, Jordan had ill-advisedly abandoned that position and tried to improve the team by playing. His personnel selections were also similarly disastrous. Drafting Kwame Brown and trading Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse were two of the most criticized decisions. Upon Jordan’s departure in May of 2003, many comments were made about a newspaper picture that showed Jordan driving away from the MCI Center in his Mercedes convertible with an Illinois license plate.

Everyone deserves new opportunities and Michael Jordan has been offered a new opportunity with Bob Johnson. This time, Jordan enters as an owner. This time, Jordan will not play again. This time, Jordan joins the Bobcats organization with a little more experience and hopefully a little more wisdom. In Washington, he boosted attendance at Wizard games by playing. In Charlotte, he will have to perform differently. This new opportunity offers him the chance to demonstrate that he is more than just a successful player.

All around the NBA, former players have become executives in team management positions. Larry Bird is president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers. Isaiah Thomas is president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks. Joe Dumars is president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons. Some have demonstrated success; others have yet to be successful.

When Ed Tapscott resigned from the management of the Bobcats after an annual meeting of team owners, it was reported that he stepped down rather than accept a separation of duties into two positions – one for basketball operations and one for business operations. In retrospect, Ed may have known that Bob Johnson wanted to bring Michael Jordan in to manage basketball operations. Tapscott was in Washington, D.C. when Jordan was with the Wizards.

Bob Johnson lives in the Washington, D.C. area. Michael Jordan lives in Chicago, Illinois. The two largest shareholders in the Bobcats ownership group do not live in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are absentee owners.

Making a connection in the Charlotte community is extremely important. Wouldn’t it be great to have an owner/management group that got excited and disappointed with the wins and losses of the team just like the fans who pay to see each and every game? We certainly saw Jerry Richardson anguish when the Panthers were suffering and losing for several seasons, but we also saw him celebrate victories. Yes, it is important that the Bobcats are profitable, but we want to see the team be competitive and we want to see the team make a connection with the community. The principal owners should lead by example and become part of this community. It is important that they do so, especially after the unsavory taste left by the prior team’s ownership!

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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