COMMENTARY | The NBA schedule-makers do like to have their fun.
Over the New Year's Eve weekend, the Chicago Bulls play host first to the Washington Wizards and then to the Charlotte Bobcats. Those are the two franchises Michael Jordan joined following his retirement and departure from the Chicago Bulls franchise.
As a Bull, Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. He was a five-time regular season Most Valuable Player. He won 10 scoring titles. He led the Bulls to six NBA titles. He retired as a champion following the 1997-98 campaign.
Unfortunately, he did not stay retired. In January of 2000, he joined the Washington Wizards as part-owner and President of Basketball Operations, finally given a chance to run a team the way he always wanted to do from as a player when he was in Chicago. His time with the Wizards as a player personnel leader was marked by his first draft choice, selecting the unspectacular Kwame Brown with the No 1 pick of the 2001 draft. They did have success when Jordan decided to come back as a player, but only when Jordan was on the floor were the Wizards any good.
Jordan was fired from his front office position in 2003. The Wizards did not have a winning record during Jordan's tenure. They did recover under coach Eddie Jordan and general manager Ernie Grunfeld to make the playoffs four years in a row and even win one playoff series.
But the Wizards are now four seasons removed from their last playoff series, and are 3-23 as of Dec. 27 this season. Somehow, it feels like it is still Jordan's fault, even though he left the club almost a decade ago.
On Dec. 31, the Bulls host the Charlotte Bobcats. Jordan is currently majority owner of the team. He became a minority owner and head of basketball operations in 2006. In February, 2010, he took over as majority owner of the club. He maintains that role today.
Since his involvement with the Bobcats, the team has had one winning season and one playoff appearance, when they were knocked out of the first round in a sweep by the Orlando Magic in 2010. As of Dec. 27 of the current season, the Bobcats were 7-21.
His draft picks started with Adam Morrison, a collegiate star from Gonzaga who was not tough enough to play in the NBA. Since 2007, he has had eight first round draft picks to play with and the players who have worked out in one sense or another are Kemba Walker, D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson. Still, the Bobcats are one of the worst teams in the league, and Jordan is considered directly responsible.
So enjoy the weekend, Bulls fans. Try, as you watch the Wizards and Bobcats play, to remember Jordan as the player he was for you and not the executive he has been for them.
Kent McDill has covered the Bulls for three different companies: for United Press International from 1985-88, for the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., from 1988-99 and currently for NBA.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title "100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die'' published by Triumph Books.