Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is Michael Jordan the new Donald Sterling?

Isn’t it ironic that the ultimate competitor is owner of the league’s least competitive team? It’s sad to see how futile Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats have become. They have the worst record in the league at 3-24 and things don’t look to get any better in Charlotte anytime soon.

The Bobcats have lost 15 straight games and didn’t eclipse 100 points in any of those games. Not only did they fail to score 100 points in any game, they have failed to eclipse 90 points in all but two games during this current losing streak.  

With the rise of the Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte has taken over the role as the worst team in the league. Sure the Clippers have had a tough time over the years keeping its best players healthy but the biggest reason they have remained the league’s most consistent loser over the years is because of the tight pockets of their owner Donald Sterling.

Sterling has refused to pay the superstars that have come through the Clippers organization usually allowing players to leave via free agency when their asking price got too high. He allowed Lamar Odom to leave as a restricted free agent; refusing to match the offer he received from the Miami Heat.

Another culprit that has sabotaged the Clippers organization over the years is questionable draft picks. Remember Michael Olowokandi or Darius Miles? Both were top three selections by the Clippers. Olowokandi was selected number one overall back in 1998; the same draft that produced Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison and Mike Bibby.

Sterling has long been a running joke in terms of his thrifty spending and inept management of the Clippers so it’s a sad day when the league’s most celebrated player is associated with the league’s most eccentric owner. Jordan has brought this notoriety on himself though with the questionable moves he has made first as president and now as owner of the Bobcats. Jordan took a competitive team, one that went to the playoffs in 2010 and traded away his two best players while allowing a third player to walk.

Sure the moves Jordan has made has helped to slash the payroll in Charlotte and allowed them to stockpile draft picks for the future but there are ways to build a team that doesn’t sacrifice winning. The Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and Boston Celtics have proven that.

Besides, when you do bring in the talent you want you still have to pay them too. Charlotte didn’t have a bad payroll situation when compared to most teams in the NBA but Jordan allowed Raymond Felton to leave via free agency while shipping off both Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson. Jordan’s reasoning is that he didn’t want the Bobcats to be a seventh or eighth seed each season. Still it’s hard to recruit free agents to a losing team or a team that shows itself not to be loyal to its best players.

And that’s one of the knocks against Jordan right now. Wallace was the face of the Bobcats franchise and the main reason they made their first playoff appearance back in 2010. He was the last original member from the Bobcats’ inaugural season roster back in 2004 and had suffered through all the teams’ growing pains leading up to their first winning season.

Wallace was still in the prime of his career at the age of 28 when he was traded from the Bobcats. Wallace referred to his trade to the Portland Trailblazers as a “stab in the back” and a “slap in the face” and you know other players around the league were paying attention.

Trading him for more talent would have made sense if Jordan was truly trying to build a winner but the Bobcats traded him for expiring contracts and a couple of draft picks. The draft picks sound nice but Jordan doesn’t have a very good track record in the draft either. He endorsed the Clippers’ picking Darius Miles and later picked Kwame Brown when he was the head man with the Washington Wizards.

His failures in the draft made him a little gun shy with taking risks in the draft making him more conservative once he started making picks for the Bobcats. He drafted Adam Morrison in his first draft as president of operations back in 2006 and has stuck to the safe strategy even up until he took over as owner in 2010.

But Jordan is convinced that what he is doing is in the team’s best interest in the long run. Let’s hope he is right but as the evidence shows he’s done a “sterling” job so far. 

Roosevelt Hall is an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2 and also writes for Shatter The Backboard. He can be contacted at RHall@shatterthebackboard.com. Follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist and add him on Facebook Roosevelt Hall Thesportmentalist.  

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