“I’d Like to Welcome Back Some Old Friends”



Some Crazy Speculation on Draft Night 2013

In a little less than a year – February 1st, 2014 to be exact – David Stern will retire from his post as NBA commissioner after an overwhelmingly successful 30 year reign. Stern’s marketing driven sports philosophy propelled the league from near extinction into an insanely lucrative global brand. The poster child (quite literally) for Stern’s multi-decade strategy is Charlotte Bobcats’ owner and G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan, who ruled both the court and the cameras during the league’s exponential growth period during the ’90s. Stern created the conditions for an international phenomenon like MJ to exist and Jordan took full advantage, elevating the game and league to heights Stern quite possibly couldn’t have imagined.
Which brings us to Thursday, June 27th 2013: David Stern’s final NBA Draft. It is the one night of the NBA year in which Stern himself is the center of attention and it represents a perfect PR opportunity to do some final executive housecleaning:
The Commissioner struts out from backstage to a roar of ironic boos and earnest applause, handling it in style with his trademark smirk and snark. He thanks the fans, the players, the owners, everyone involved in the league for making it what it is today. Then a surprise: “Before I go, I’d like to welcome a new friend into the Association.” Tom Benson joins him at the podium with a freshly minted New Orleans Pelicans jersey. Smiles and handshakes. “And I’d also like to use this opportunity to welcome back some old friends.” Steve Balmer (or one of his minions) joins the group with a crisp Supersonics size 48. “After a brief hiatus, we’d like to officially welcome Seattle back to the NBA.” More smiles and handshakes, cheers from the crowd. Stern lets the moment linger… “Speaking of old friends…”
The one and only, Michael Jordan struts in from stage right holding a jersey of his own. Nearly thirty years later to the date, Stern and MJ shake hands at the Draft podium for a second time. “Michael, it’s been an amazing run.” Crowd going nuts. Jordan unveils the teal and purple. “Finally, we’d like to welcome the Hornets back to their home in Charlotte.” Boom.

A former player – an African-American mega-star – standing equally alongside two white billionaires and a Jewish attorney representing the NBA’s past, present and future – this is Stern-ian theatrics at its best.
Crazy speculation? Certainly. Does it fit with the Commissioner’s thirty year modus opperandi? Without a doubt.
Finally: Just as ESPN’s cameras cut away, Stern leans into the microphone, turns towards MJ: “Michael, your team is up, the clock’s ticking down. Some things never change.”

Jordan Making His Play



A day after Gerald Wallace’s unassuming turn as the first Bobcat to play in an All-Star game bored me to the point of not bothering to blog about it, we have a new development in the pending sale of the Bobcats.

After Monday evening’s practice, Larry Brown confirmed to the media that Michael Jordan is intent on putting together a proper group and offer to buy the Charlotte Bobcats.

This is not at all surprising; Jordan has indicated his desire to become majority owner in the past.  As we’ve learned about former Houston Rockets president George Postolos and his bid to buy the team in recent months, we’ve also learned that there is some sort of agreement in place which allows Jordan some time to be able to match any bid that current owner Bob Johnson might find acceptable.

At All-Star weekend, NBA Commisioner David Stern confirmed that serious negotiations were underway, and that the team would likely be sold within 60 days.  The only missing piece, as I noted, was some confirmation that Jordan was assembling a group/offer to compete with Postolos’ bid.  And now we have it.

Don’t think this was just an offhand comment by Brown, either.  Jordan has reportedly declined interview requests by the Observer regarding the subject (as has Postolos) but clearly wanted to pass word on at this point.

One would have to assume that Jordan is pretty far along in his quest to put together a bid if he’s allowed Brown to make these comments to the media.  The thing that’s still unclear to me is the exact nature of the agreement that is allowing Jordan time to match Postolos’ bid.  Can Postolos come over the top with another offer?

This is huge stuff in regards to the future of the franchise.  Postolos would reportedly clean house in the front office.  Jordan, current GM Rod Higgins and coach Larry Brown would all be gone.  Prior to the trade for Steven Jackson and the Bobcats’ ascension into the playoff race over the past couple of months, most Cats fans would have welcomed such news, even if it meant blowing up the roster.

But with the team headed in the right direction on the court, continuity sounds pretty good right now.

-Dr. E

All-Star Saturday Wrap-Up

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Slam Dunk Contest

Along with former Bobcats Shannon Brown, Gerald Wallace was eliminated in the first round of the least memorable Slam Dunk Contest in years on Saturday night.  After a missed attempt, Gerald threw down a two-handed, double-pump reverse jam for his first dunk, garnering a 38 from the judges.  On his Flip Murray-assisted second dunk, Gerald again missed his first attempt.  On a second try, Gerald took a bounce pass from Flip while flying from right to left underneath the basket, eventually throwing it down one-handed.  That one got a 40 and ended Gerald’s night.  Oh well, here’s a nice profile on Gerald from the Observer’s Scott Fowler anyways.

Nate Robinson and DeMar DeRozan went on to the finals, where Nate finally finished off the yawnfest with a “pretty great for a little guy” reverse jam after a toss off the backboard.  Good for Nate, as it’s a record-setting third Slam Dunk Championship for him; but unfortunately Charles Barkley stole the show with his sarcastic “maybe no one will win” comment while they were waiting for the internet votes to be tabulated.  Good luck to the league as they will undoubtedly be looking into ways to spice up the Dunk Contest next year (if they don’t kill it off altogether).


Taking Care of Business

Two interesting stories that concern the Bobcats emerged from David Stern’s media availability.  First and foremost, Stern confirmed that the Bobcats sale will most likely go through within the next sixty days.  It’s been reported in the past that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos is leading a group that has made a respectable offer; it’s also known that current minority owner Michael Jordan has some kind of right to match any offer.  What isn’t known at this point is whether or not Jordan is rounding up the partners to match said offer.  He probably is — at the craps table at Atlantis.

The other interesting story is the ongoing quest by the NBA and the Players Union to come up with another Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Stern projects almost $400 million in losses league-wide this year, which does not bode well for the players as the current CBA has less than a year to go.  One thing that would help the Bobcats (and other small-market teams) in the new CBA would be some kind of revenue-sharing agreement, and both Stern and players’ rep Billy Hunter have mentioned strengthened revenue-sharing as a likely component of the next CBA.  Donald Sterling cannot be pleased.

Trade Rumors

The Wizards have finally begun their demolition, dealing Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Dallas for Josh Howard + flotsam + jetsam.  This should start to loosen everyone else up, and things will likely be fast and furious on the transaction front between now and Thursday’s trade deadline.  The next piece to fall into place may be Amare Stoudemire to the Cavs.

The Bobcats are almost certainly still on the lookout for a power forward, with DJ being the likely bait.  I haven’t seen any new published rumors, except for the tidbit that the Cats rejected the Wizards offer of Andray Blatche for DJ.  Easy call, we’re looking for someone that will help us in the playoffs this year, not a young guy who still has a ways to go.

All-Star Game

The big game is at 7PM ET on TNT, live from Cowboys Stadium.  I’ll be tweeting as Gerald Wallace will become the first Bobcat to play in an All-Star game, and we’ll be back with some postgame thoughts either later tonight or tomorrow morning.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Baseliners.

-Dr. E