Transcript from a question-and-answer session with Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012:
Q: You spoke to the team Monday. What did you say?
A: Well I watched a couple of practices and one of the things I was very happy about and I really praised the coaching staff in terms of was the method they were going about teaching our kids, teaching our players. Because a lot of those players, a lot of those things in the past were not being seen as basketball players. I got so excited because these are the things I went through -- some of the drills, some of the fundamentals.
I think those have been missing in some of the preseason activity. Why coaches have skipped steps in the past I dont understand and especially because our talent coming out is a lot younger than it used to be. And this is from a guy [Jordan himself] who had been in college three years, and I still had to go through that process.
I felt good about what Coach Dunlap was actually doing, all the little things that seemingly have been our biggest issue in the past.
Q: Little things like what?
A: Boxing out. Making good passes. Utilizing each others talents. Understanding basic basketball. Pivots. Things that basketball fans dont see as often, but if you look at good teams, those are good things that happen in the game. And one of the reasons I felt compelled to speak to the team was, Look, I endorse what coach is talking about.
Unfortunately we had some guys who were not receiving it that way. Either they were not, they didnt want to do it. And I felt the need to step in and say, Look, this is how were going to do this. The culture of whats happening in Charlotte is going to be this. Either you buy in or youre not going to be here.
You cant sit here and look yourself in the mirror and say we dont need this stuff. If that was the case, we shouldnt have been a 7-59 team. So in essence when youre a 7-59 team, you go back to the basics, you go back to try and figure out a way, OK, we need to do this thing the right way. Either you buy in or youre not a part of this whole process.
That was the gist of what I was talking about. I said, No one wants to be in the record books [for losing]. We were in the record books. That doesnt give a sense of pride. Im not happy about it, you guys shouldnt be happy about it. Every day you leave the basketball court, you should not just be happy that youre getting out of practice, you should evaluate what happens in practice and see how you got better as a player and got better as a team. This is exactly why I said I could play for a guy like that [Dunlap] because he takes that much emphasis on the game itself and not so much on whats happening around the game.
I think some of the players got it. But I think its one of those things, that with this coach and this organization, we are going to continue to reiterate that. Because youve got to do it the right way. Weve got to strip down whats been happening within this organization and build back from the basics. Build it the right way.
And were at a point now we can do that. Weve got a young team, weve got a young energetic coach whos been waiting for his opportunity to coach and hes doing it the right way. Weve got cap space, weve got draft picks, weve got hopefully new hope within this community and were going to build on that. And were going to do it the right way. Either you want to be a part of it or you dont want to be a part. But we have to do it the right way.
Q: So you had heard some of the players grumbling about the 3-4 hour practices?
A: Yeah, I heard that and I saw it. Which is one of the reasons I went to watch practice. And I didnt see anything that was different from when I played the game of basketball. I think the perception is a little bit different, maybe the expectation is a little bit different and this is where weve got to hold firm. This is what championship teams do. If we did it in Chicago and we became a championship team, why wouldnt we want to do that here? If you turn your nose up to it, then maybe you need to look in the mirror and see that youre a part of the problem .
The next day, it seemed like everybody was on board. So I think they got it. I wanted them to hear it coming from management . Were going to do everything we can to upgrade and bring stability.
Q: How do the current Bobcat players react to you?
A: I dont have direct dialogue with them as much as I used to. I created a little bit more of a distance. I came from a different era. I look at things totally different than the way they do. I send subtle messages, I try to. But If I sit here and debate with them, Im bringing myself down to their level in a sense. And I dont want to get there . Where I am is where they want to get to.
Q: Do they act intimidated by you?
A: Some of them do, some of them dont. Henderson doesnt get intimidated. But thats a Dukie for you. He doesnt get intimidated but he listens. There are certain guys you can go right at and say, I think youve been playing [badly]. I think you need to focus on being more consistent. He likes that criticism. But then the other players, you need to not walk on eggs, but do it in a way you dont break their morale or you dont tear them down.
And I tend to stay away from those guys because my personality is a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more determined in asking for a lot. And I go to the guys I feel can receive that and I stay away from the guys who I feel get intimidated.
Q: What are your expectations for this season?
A: I want to see us getting better each and every day. If you want to put it in numbers in terms of how many games we can win, I cant say that. Im not playing. If I was playing, I could tell you what we could do. But in essence, Ive got to live vicariously through my team and my coaching staff and how well that clicks. How well he can get his message to these young kids and then they comprehend and then they produce. I know well be better than we were last year in terms of effort and determination. To actually be winning games, and how well they adapt, I dont know. We have some very good young talent. Hopefully the talent has gotten better. The young players have gotten better. Weve got MKG and weve got Jeff Taylor, who are new kids, who I think theyre going to get it. How fast they get it, I dont know.
Can I give us a win-loss scenario? No, I cant. But I believe were going to be better.
Q: Why did you choose Michael Kidd-Gilchrist over the other possibilities at No.2?
A: What I saw in the kid was his potential. Hes a very versatile guy. His demeanor, his motivation for playing the game was something I could identify with. He loves to play. He plays hard. Success has been part of his life in terms of a basketball scenario. And if he succeeds as everybody expects him to, hes going to be a connector. He can connect a lot of different talent together and be successful.
Ive said this in the past and I say it loosely obviously: He reminds me of Scottie Pippen because he can do so many different facets and he can connect a lot of different, talented players. Whereas if we looked at other guys I looked at [Thomas] Robinson, who I think is going to be a great player but can he connect? Can he connect the different pieces?
Thats where I saw MKG as being more valuable to this organization because if we can find those types of players that can make everybody else better and touch it with the ball, with the pass, with his defense, with his voice, with his energy, all those types of things, thats a quick road to success.
When you look at the way our league is, you have some players who are capable of doing this. Now Im only going to say this as recognizing and identifying guys: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, all these guys play multiple positions, they know how to involve everyone, they know how to lead, they have the work ethic, this is what I saw about this kid that can be very beneficial to this organization, especially where we are and where were trying to go.
Q Would you consider switching the nickname should New Orleans owner Tom Benson follow through on plans to give up the name Hornets?
A: Its definitely an interest down the road. But right now its still the New Orleans Hornets. Were really not at liberty to discuss something owned by someone else. We would definitely entertain the opportunity. Thats as much as we can say right now. Weve heard the community ask the question, and we would listen.
Q: Are you committed to being this teams owner for the long haul?
A: Im in it for the long haul. I was frustrated. For a guy who played the game of basketball, I could only do so much sitting in that (owners) seat. I think some of you guys (asked) why I wasnt sitting in my normal seats. It was too close and I couldnt control my emotions. I moved myself back up, so that I could scream and yell without you guys hearing me.
Youre not going to run me out that easily. Losing is not something I take well, but its not something I run from, either. Its my nature that when someone says I cant do something, I focus on trying to do it. So when people say we cant win here, it drives me nuts and gets me motivated to do everything I can to bring a winner here.
Q: You once said there will be a great player out there who can do for the Bobcats what you did for the Chicago Bulls. Still believe that?
A: I do. I also understand weve got to get our house in order, so that it becomes attractive to certain people. Right now were getting our house in order; were getting the coaching that we need. Someone will want to be a part of this culture. At the same time, I cant sit back and wait we have to nurture what we have. You never know; that person could be outside the organization or right here in the organization.
The community has been very supportive even in these very trying times. Weve tried to be transparent with where were trying to go. Hopefully that
The culture has changed. Its not what it used to be. And hopefully players see that.
Q: How many players on the roster could contribute to a team that advances deeply into the playoffs?
A: I think weve got the right coach to develop that talent. all the little things that matter, the effort As we see some of these guys evolve, that gives us a better understanding of where we need to plug holes. Right now there are a lot of holes that need to be plugged MKG is going to be a good player for us. Jeff Taylor is going to be a good player. Kemba Walker is going to be a good player. Biyombo is going to start to show us (what he is)
I like the way were starting to develop. Prior to this, I dont know if we understood what we have. We understood what we wanted, what we hope we have. Now I think well see exactly what we have: Is Gerald Henderson a long-term piece for us. Well find out.
Q: You said over a year ago you could see Gerald Henderson being an All-Star in two years. Do you still see that?
A: Gerald gets it. He shows signs. Hes a captain this year To be a captain is a responsibility of leading by example. Dont talk about it, do it. Be there every day in some capacity. If your shots not there, then rebound or play defense. These are the things Im expecting to see from Gerald. Hes shown the signs. Now can he take the next step. Im pretty sure this is the year hes going to sit in my office and ask for a raise. These are the things I need to see. I dont like to overpay for things I dont see. I come from a whole different background. Well see.
Q: James Harden was just traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets. Were the Bobcats ever in the mix to acquire him?
A: We made a couple phone calls. Thats all I can say.
Q: Do you still believe a major free agent would come to the Bobcats?
A: If the (collective bargaining agreement) operates the way its supposed to, there will be very few teams with the right cap space (to pursue major free agents). Hopefully we can start picking them off that way, by maintaining our flexibility. Maybe we can provide them with the financial reward most players are starting to look for. Hoping the CBA will work that way for small-market teams some parity.