Michael Jordan has been the primary owner of the Charlotte Bobcats for almost two years, and his team has been unable to gain a solid foothold locally and struggled financially since becoming an expansion franchise in 2004. He explained his stance as a supposed hard-line owner during the NBA lockout, telling reporters in Charlotte on Wednesday that his objective was to get a favorable collective bargaining agreement for small market teams.
“My stance with the CBA was I want to provide a championship-quality team to Charlotte,” Jordan told the Charlotte Observer. “I was going out on a limb to protect that and obviously the players felt differently. I’m not anti-player. As a businessman, I want everybody to be happy. I do feel players should assume more risk, especially when (owners now) assume all the risk. There are no non-guaranteed contracts.”
Jordan received considerable backlash from players when he pushed for owners to receive a larger share of basketball-related income and wasn’t satisfied with a 50-50 split. Wizards restricted free agent guard Nick Young declared on Twitter that he would no longer wear Jordan Brand gear and players’ union executive director Billy Hunter said he would give Jordan “the advice that he gave Abe Pollin.”
Jordan was heavily involved as a player during the 1998 NBA lockout, famously telling late Wizards owner Abe Pollin during a heated bargaining session, “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team.”
Golden State Warriors rookie Klay Thompson went so far as to call Jordan a “straight hypocrite” on Twitter.
“I would have been more hypocritical if I’m sitting here supporting the players,” Jordan said during a news conference. “Ultimately when these kids grow up and hopefully can get to my side of the table they will understand what my stance was.”
Jordan wasn’t completely satisfied with the deal, saying “it’s not ultimately where we want to be. . . . We have gone through some difficult (financial) situations and we have 22 teams losing money—so obviously the model is not correct. I understood what some of the players said in terms of what they thought I should be doing. But my dedication was to the community and to this team.”