Michael Jordan doesn't speak publicly that often about the Charlotte Bobcats. When he does, it's always worth listening to.
Jordan gave an exclusive, 30-minute interview to the Observer's Scott Fowler Friday night before the Bobcats defeated New Orleans 92-89 at home. Jordan tackled subjects ranging from the Bobcats' roster to Barack Obama's election.
Jordan is a Bobcats minority owner and has the final say on all basketball-related decisions. He said he would like to become the Bobcats' owner when and if current owner Bob Johnson decides to sell the club.
Although Jordan is bullish on the Bobcats, he also said he was actively working on possible trades to improve the team. Preferably, he would acquire another big man to help Emeka Okafor.
“We've got a lot of perimeter players that duplicate each other,” Jordan said. “From Adam (Morrison) to Matt (Carroll) to Jared (Dudley). … I think that's what Larry (Brown, the Bobcats' new coach) is trying to battle with. And we have no big presence in the middle other than Emeka.”
Here is a transcript of the Observer's interview with Jordan, with questions and answers edited for clarity and brevity.
Q. Where do you think the Bobcats stand right now?
We've got a different coach and a different philosophy. It's still a work in progress. We have stretches where we play good basketball, but then that bad basketball will rear its head.
If you look at our roster – I think it's better than it was last year. I think the mentality of our guys is different. We have D.J. Augustin, who I think is going to be a real good point guard. He's kind of crafty. He's quick and he thinks very well. He can hit the jump shot but he thinks pass first. Right now he's getting a lot of rookie fouls, but I think he's going to be good. … When you look at our team, I'm very happy with our team.
Q. What do you think about Sean May, who was supposed to start for this team and right now is hardly playing?
Sean was a little bit disappointing because he came in out of shape at the beginning of the season. He's very hesitant because of his health. I just want him to get in shape because we expect so much from him, and when he's out there, he's not capable of giving it to us. His psyche may be a little down right now. … But I think he's a very integral part to our success.
Q. What do you think of Raymond Felton's play so far this season?
Raymond – a lot of it has to do with his whole financial thoughts, what his (next) contract is going to be, how much he's going to make and what should he do to try and impress me, and the coach, and all that other stuff. When, in essence, all he has to do is play his game and make sure everybody else understands what they're supposed to do on the court. And he's trying, don't get me wrong. He's one of the hardest (workers) we have.
Q. Are you actively pursuing any trades right now?
I'm definitely looking for a big guy. And I'm always looking to try and get a third point guard. Shannon Brown has been a blessing stepping in for us, but he's more of a two guard.
Q. How is your relationship with Larry Brown and is he constantly in your ear trying to tweak the roster?
(Laughs.) He is. We talk a lot. He has great suggestions. I'm not afraid to say, ‘Larry, I don't agree with that. And he's not afraid to tell me, ‘MJ, I don't agree with that.'”
Q. You're more visible this season, often sitting right beside the Bobcats' bench. Why?
Initially, when I first got into this, I had a tough time being so close to the game. My competitive nature is such that I want to check in. I want to be animated. I want to yell. As you get older, that dissipates a little bit. I'm getting a little older (Jordan is 45) so now I can deal with being that close. … And if the public thinks they get to see me a little more, well, great.
I do want people to understand I'm committed to this franchise. I'm committed to Charlotte. I'm invested. I'm putting my money up. They're not giving me a suite. They're not giving me front-row seats. I'm paying for these things. If I'm putting my money in it, I believe in it.
Q. How many Bobcats games will you attend in person this year?
I don't know. I have a son playing at Illinois. I have a son playing (in high school). I have other business obligations. I'm going to fit in as many as possible, but I can't put a number on it.
Q. Do you get the itch to play anymore?
No. The last time I really played was when I was horsing around with the guys last year. I'm so afraid I'm going to get out there and pop an Achilles and then I'm on crutches.
Q. Were you happy to see Barack Obama elected president?
I was very happy to see it. I'm not really politically outspoken. … My opinion is not the gospel. But I think what happened with Barack was the best thing that could have happened to this country. I think it's going to unify this country. He has great ideas. He'll be a good, solid president. … I voted for him. I supported him. We are friends.
Q. The Bobcats have never made the playoffs. Can this team make it?
A lot of things have got to fall in place. With this franchise, injuries have always been the biggest issue. … Larry (Brown) is going to set the roles to utilize individual talents. Do I think we can make the playoffs? Yes. Can we go deep in the playoffs? There'd have to be some maturity going on.
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