Debating whether LeBron James or Michael Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history is all the rage these days, yet a comparison that’s just as compelling is Michael Jordan vs. James Dolan.
Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets, and Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks, are vying for (dis)honors as the NBA’s worst owner.
With the NBA draft lottery set for Tuesday, when the numbered ping pong balls will be drawn in Chicago and team order set for the June 21 draft, it’s good time to review how Air Jordan became Err Jordan.
Having finished the 2017-18 season with the league’s 11th-worst record, the Hornets will have a 0.8% chance of getting the No. 1 pick; a 2.9% chance of getting a top-3 pick; and, based on the team’s success rate since Jordan entered the picture, a 90% chance of failing to pick a future All-Star.
Between the time Jordan bought a minority share in the team in 2006, purchased controlling interest in 2010, to now, the Hornets have had 11 lottery picks and landed just one All-Star – Kemba Walker.
No one has proved more convincingly than Jordan, with his six NBA championship rings, that having talent does not guarantee the ability to spot talent. During his three-year stint as team president of the Washington Wizards, Jordan most famously used the No. 1 pick of the 2001 draft on Kwame Brown, who averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds during his 13-year NBA career.
But the Wizards did what the Hornets can’t – fire Jordan. And although it remains uncertain how much influence he continues to exert on draft day, his famous victory cigars keep exploding.
While picking the likes of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte has passed on eventual All-Stars such as Brandon Roy, Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The blunders started when Charlotte used the third pick of the 2006 draft on Adam Morrison, who five years later was playing for a team called Red Star Belgrade.
The Hornets got their eventual All-Star in 2011, when they took Walker with the No. 9 pick. But they used the No. 7 pick on Bismack Biyombo, who has averaged 2.2 points per game during his seven-year career, while passing on future All-Stars such as Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler.
Dolan, by contrast, can gloat about the Knicks having used No. 4 pick of the 2015 draft on Kristaps Porzingis, who has emerged as a potential franchise player. But the Knicks are on their fourth coach in five years, leaving Jordan an opening to the avoid the label of NBA’s worst owner.
Jordan’s club has made the playoffs in two of the past five seasons, although the Hornets lost in the first round each time. Now he has a new head coach, James Borrego, and a new general manager, Mitch Kupchak. But neither will last too long unless the Hornets change their fortunes on draft day, when there’s only one safe place for an owner like Jordan to be.
The golf course.