Despite being a generation apart in age, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan have similarities.
Each played professionally in the sport in which he now serves as a team owner – a rarity in the four major leagues. Each had massive success in the business world. Each has deep roots in the Carolinas.
And each has generally avoided interaction with Charlotte media over the past few years.
Richardson, who turned 81 Tuesday, last held a news conference in 2010, after making a coaching change that let go John Fox and his staff.
Jordan, 54, last held a general availability with Charlotte media in October of 2014.
Richardson made major news Monday by firing Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman nine days before the start of training camp July 26. Richardson said in a prepared statement, “While the timing of this decision is not ideal, a change is needed.” No other detail was provided.
This was similar to how the Hornets initially handled the departure of Rod Higgins, president of basketball operations, 13 days before the 2014 NBA draft. The next day Jordan changed course, doing an interview with the Observer to explain why Higgins was gone so close to the draft.
The Panthers have made no such change in course regarding Gettleman’s firing, and that is typical of how Richardson has avoided general interviews. He was not available to the media in the days leading up to Super Bowl 50, after appearing at media day in Houston when the Panthers made their first Super Bowl appearance in 2004.
Richardson and Jordan have occasionally answered questions. Richardson did briefly in 2012 during a ceremony involving then-South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Jordan talked about why the team went to China for preseason exhibitions two years ago, and issued a statement to the Observer regarding the since-rescinded House Bill 2.
However, by and large, these owners have left the talking to others in their organizations. There’s no rule a team owner has to make him or herself available to local media.
There’s a wide range of attitudes about this: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (who also holds the title general manager) does a weekly radio show in his market and makes himself available to media on a weekly basis during the season. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban frequently speaks out on NBA issues and was an early adopter of Twitter as a means to interact with the public.
Meanwhile, other prominent owners almost never do interviews in their team’s markets. An example is former Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who owns the NFL Seattle Seahawks and the NBA Portland Trail Blazers.
Richardson and Jordan both have circumstances that might explain their limited interaction with Charlotte media.
Richardson is at an advanced age and has had major health issues in recent years, including a heart transplant. His news conference in 2010 included an awkward interaction with WCCB-TV news anchor Morgan Fogarty.
Jordan is still a global icon, 14 years removed from retiring as an NBA player. He used to do a local media availability each preseason. He curtailed that, one source indicated, because so many questions strayed away from his owning the Hornets.
Staff writer Joe Person contributed
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell