Michael Jordan is in charge in Charlotte. Bobcats owner Bob Johnson says Jordan will be making the major basketball decisions in the franchise’s future.
Based on Jordan’s ill-fated stewardship of the Wizards (drafting Kwame Brown No. 1, trading Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse, etc.), there likely won’t be long lines for season tickets by prospective Bobcat fans.
But after the team went 18-64 and 26-56 in its first two seasons and is headed for another losing season this year (24-42 after Friday night) under coach/general manager Bernie Bickerstaff, Johnson decided to put Jordan at the helm.
“We’re waiting on him to outline who he wants to coach and then supervising that coach and making the decision on who he wants to draft,” Johnson said.
“All of those things are Michael’s call. And I couldn’t think of a better person to have that responsibility.”
Jordan said he’d like to keep Bickerstaff, who has one year left on a five-year contract worth $15 million that he signed one year before the Bobcats began their inaugural season (2004-05) season, in some capacity.
Bickerstaff said he was comfortable with Jordan’s decision to announce that this would be his final year as Bobcats’ coach. But he said he would not be discussing his future plans.
“At the end of the season, I’ll talk. Not now.”
Jordan said, “I want him involved as much as he wants to be involved. We just haven’t decided if that’s general manager or president of basketball operations or something like that.”
On the next coach, Jordan said, “I think it’s up to he (Bickerstaff) and I to, at the end of the season, evaluate what we feel best suits coaching these young kids.”
Jordan was criticized during his time in Washington for appearing to take a part-time approach to his job of running the Wizards.
He addressed this, saying, “I’m operating manager for the investors. I oversee the basketball operations. Does that put me in the office for a 9-to-5 situation? No.”
Jordan said he will open Johnson’s wallet “as long as the money is well-spent” and that he will operate in a low-key manner.
He suggested his main goal is to win back fans who were turned off by the old Hornets ownership of George Shinn.
“To win back the fans from a basketball standpoint, not from a Michael Jordan-involvement standpoint. That’s one of the reasons why I chose not to be a part of a dog-andpony show. “I want to be able to build a basketball team that people feel proud about investing in and supporting as opposed to a team that Michael Jordan’s involved in. I’m not playing. You’re not investing in me.”
“I think we’re close. We’re a few pieces away. I think the nucleus of our team is very solid and very young. As soon as we get a couple more pieces … I’m hoping that we can bring it back to the same energy that the Hornets had.
“It’s a proven product. It’s been proven here once before. Unfortunately, a lot of ugly things came into play and it’s been a long way back getting to that point.”
In an added twist, Larry Brown, working in the 76ers’ front office, said he would be interested in working for Jordan but that he hadn’t been contacted.
The Sixers have announced Maurice Cheeks will return as coach.
WHAT’S A COLLEGE?
NCAA tournament talk is a little muted around the Celtics, a team with four players who never went to college.
“There are a couple of college teams that might have an older team than we did in that one stretch (when injuries had them starting all four high schoolers),” said coach Doc Rivers.
“It’s funny listening to them in the locker room talking about the schools that they were going to go to. Al (Jefferson) was cheering for Arkansas.”
ARTEST’S DOG DAYS
A fiction writer would be hard-pressed to make up Ron Artest’s latest problems.
Not only is he involved in a domestic-violence case, but his dog recently was released in a foster-care agreement.
Remember, this is an NBA column, not a fiction column.
The Sacramento Bee reported Socks, the Great Dane that was seized from Sacramento Kings star Ron Artest last month, has been released into the custody of his attorney under a foster-care agreement.
“(The lawyer) is essentially providing care on behalf of the county,” said Placer County (Calif.) spokeswoman Anita Yoder.
“Although the dog still technically belongs to Artest, his attorney – identified in the agreement as Shannon V. Baker, a Sacramento criminal defense attorney – is not allowed to return Socks to Artest until charges that he underfed the dog have been resolved,” Yoder said.
SAD TIMES FOR SAM
Sam Cassell is ageless no more.
The Suns killer from way back is on the injured list with a variety of ailments.
At his age, 37, a sprained ankle could be career-threatening.
The Clippers guard said the nagging pulled muscle in his midsection isn’t getting any better.
“Right now, with me just going out there and playing, I’m taking steps backward instead of forward.
“I can run up and down the court and get some assists but this team needs me to make shots. I’m just not comfortable shooting the basketball right now.”
The last word
“Ball don’t lie.”
RAHSEED WALLACE TO REF BOB DELANEY, A STATEMENT THAT RESULTED IN WALLACE’ S 16TH TECHNICAL FOUL AND AN AUTOMATIC ONE-GAME SUSPENSION.
All-stars to London
Crossing the pond: The NBA is considering staging All Star Weekend overseas, possibly in London. The only future weekend that’s scheduled is next year’s affair in New Orleans.
Bad times: The Lakers’ 108-72 home loss to the Mavericks last Sunday was their worst loss in 47 seasons in L.A.
Peja Stojakovic, who has missed almost the entire season with back problems, could return to action for the Hornets this week.