February 11, 2011
The Charlotte Bobcats are in the midst of a swoon, losing five of seven games and falling out of the East's playoff bracket with Wednesday's loss to the Indiana Pacers. And with injuries crippling the roster on one of the team's rare chances to practice -- with the NBA's busy schedule, practices after training camp are few and far between -- the team was forced to rely on a member of its front office just to fill out a five-on-five game. The owner actually. Pathetic, right?
Pathetic that the owner kicked a little butt, I should add. Because it was Michael Jordan. The 48-year-old Michael Jordan, who hasn't played in the NBA in eight years, but Michael Jordan nevertheless.
The Charlotte Observer's Roy Green Jr. has the story:
"He still has it. He doesn't have his quickness, but he's a scorer, he's a shooter. The last thing to go is your jump shot, and he still has that."
Jordan, who will turn 48 next week, wore an orange jersey during practice and iced both knees when he was finished. Asked if the orange jersey meant Jordan got special treatment on the court, Wallace said no.
"We don't treat him like a quarterback out here. We hit him," Wallace said of the Hall of Famer, who did not speak to reporters. "It just means he's on third string."
Third string on the Bobcats means the 10th-to-15th man on a mediocre Eastern Conference team. But for a 48-year-old? Not bad, Michael Jordan.
The Associated Press reported Jordan -- and this should come as no surprise -- was hunched over a chair and swaddled with ice bags all over his knees. But, again, people half his age would probably need an IV and a stretcher after battling with the likes of Gerald Wallace in an actual NBA practice. So, once again? Not bad, Michael Jordan.
For those who are wondering, a comeback is not in the offing for MJ.
Even if he did have the nerve, NBA owners are not allowed to play for their own teams, so Jordan (as was the case for Magic Johnson in 1996 with the Lakers, and MJ in 2001 with the Washington Wizards) would have to sell off his stake in the Bobcats in order to take the floor.
The difference now is that Magic and M.J. had a small stake in the Lakers and Wizards, whereas the 2011 Jordan has a controlling interest in the Bobcats. Complicating things further is the fact that M.J. didn't exactly buy the Bobcats with a big wad of his own cash -- rather, he agreed to mostly assume the team's many, many debts. So it would be a hard, complicated sell, one that wouldn't resolve itself in time for Jordan to sign before the playoff roster cut-off date (March 1), or even the end of the NBA season.
All that to end up on a sideline, covered in ice? This might not be a one-off practice performance, but this will be as far as it goes.
But next time it happens, Bobcats? You're hurting for money, so why not bring a film crew? I'd buy the DVD.