CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — As frustrated as Michael Jordan has been over the Charlotte Bobcats’ lack of success, he said tanking games to get a high pick in next year’s NBA draft isn’t the way to fix a rebuilding franchise.
The Bobcats owner scoffed at the idea Friday, telling The Associated Press, “I don’t know if some teams have thought of that. That’s not something that we would do. I don’t believe in that.”
He then laughed heartily and said, “If that was my intention I never would have paid (free agent) Al Jefferson $13 million a year.”
Jordan hasn’t been able to translate his on-court success to winning as an NBA owner and executive.
He won six NBA titles as a player, but Charlotte is just 62-168 in his three full seasons as majority owner. The Bobcats were 21-61 last season.
Still, he doesn’t believe there are shortcuts to winning.
While the 2014 NBA draft offers hopes to fledgling teams with talented players like Andrew Wiggins at Kansas and Duke’s Jabari Parker, Jordan made it clear he isn’t thinking about losing.
“It’s not guaranteed (the player) you are going to get is going to be that star anyway,” Jordan said. “I did read that certain teams are thinking about doing it. But I’m not one of them. So let’s alleviate that conversation.”
Jordan, who was in a relaxed mood hours at the Bobcats headquarters before his team’s home opener, has been widely criticized for his failures with the Bobcats and for his struggles in the front office with the Washington Wizards.
He said some of that comes with the territory.
“It’s somewhat unfair, but you come to expect it,” said Jordan, who became the majority owner of the Bobcats in 2010. “You set certain standards as a player that transcend whatever you do. It goes where you go. You will be wearing that around your neck so that when people see the name they expect the results.
“It’s somewhat unfair but it is what it is. I don’t let it define me.”
However, Jordan said he remains committed to the Bobcats and said he’s tried to be transparent with the fans about the direction of the team.
This past offseason he used the amnesty clause on forward Tyrus Thomas, a move that took his hefty contract off the books.
Jordan still has to pay Thomas $18 million, but the move freed up that money under the salary cap as part of a one-time policy under the new collective bargaining agreement. The Bobcats used that money to sign Jefferson to three-year $41 million contact and to re-sign guard Gerald Henderson for $18 million over three seasons.
“I mean, that was a statement,” Jordan said of his commitment to the Bobcats. “I still have to pay more than $17 million, but it was a move that we needed to make to build and go get a guy like Big Al.”
Jordan believes that the team’s young core of players — along with Jefferson’s experience — will help the Bobcats become more competitive.
“We’re focused on what we’re trying to do,” Jordan said. “I think the direction we’re moving is positive. … I have a very strong feeling about where we’re going and my vision for this franchise.”
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