MEET THE BOSS: Michael Jordan's executive career has somehighlights, including hiring Larry Brown, right, as Charlotte Bobcatshead coach but as the team's new owner, he needs to make that careerflourish as much as his playing careerPhoto Credit: (Associated Press)
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MJ MAKES MORE HISTORY
For a player who made a living on last-second shots, is it a surprise that Michael Jordan found a way at the last minute to negotiate a deal to purchase the Charlotte Bobcats.
Jordan bought the Bobcats from initial owner Robert Johnson, making him the first former athlete to be a majority owner of a pro sports team in American history.
In a symbolic way, it's a great thing that he owns a franchise. It's a sign of the power that many Black athletes don't have because for all the money they make, they still answer to someone else.
But as a basketball executive, Jordan's career has been more miss than hit. As president of the Wizards, he drafted Kwame "Hands of Stone" Brown and traded Rip Hamilton to the Pistons - helping set the stage for their 2004 title.
With the Bobcats, he drafted Adam Morrison who's collected bench splinters and a ring here with the Lakers. But he did sign Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace while bringing Larry Brown in to coach a rebuilding team.
So what will change as an owner? Will Jordan be a more hands-on owner like he was when he challenged Bobcats rookie Gerald Henderson to a game of HORSE? Or will he sit in his box and just make decisions.
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. MJ found this out the hard way when he made his final comeback. For all the basketball IQ and drive he possesses, it won't help make the Bobcats a better team because he's not on the court.
If there's one person I wouldn't bet against, its Jordan. Over the next few years, though, he has to prove that his business/executive skill will improve to make this historical step a good one.
SAME KING, NEW NUMBER
LeBron James officially followed on his promise in November to change his number from 23 to 6 by filling paperwork last week.
First off, let's applaud James for actually living up to his word. Now if he only could have done that for the dunk contest.
James wants to honor No. 23 in memory of Michael Jordan, saying that nobody else should wear it. It's his decision considering he'll never make that number more famous than him.
But for someone who knows the game's history, the number he chose is already famous for two Hall of Fame icons - Julius Erving and Bill Russell.
No. 6 is James' Olympic number but if he thinks he's trying to create his own identity for it, he's sadly mistaken. Bill Russell's impact as a dominant center and the NBA's first Black coach goes far beyond any money or impact James will have.
The fact that Russell was one of the game's first Black stars in a city known for its racial tensions speaks volumes against James' legacy as the next global commercial superstar.
No matter what number he changes to - or where he plays next year - all that matters is that 16. The number of wins he needs to go from the game's best player to a champion.
It's fitting that we mention LeBron in the same space as Jordan. Both were the ultimate corporate pitchmen but the difference is that Jordan never lost sight of winning first.
That's the question the King needs to answer this season and this summer. Does he only want to be LeBron Inc or does he want to be a champion first?