CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan remembers looking to the
Boston bench during his 63-point game in the 1986 playoffs and
seeing Celtics rookie Sam Vincent cheering on his extraordinary
Two years later, Vincent became Jordan's point guard in Chicago.
Now, Jordan has turned to Vincent in a move that could determine
whether Jordan will succeed in his second chance running a team.
The Bobcats' part-owner introduced Vincent on Friday as
Charlotte's new coach, smiling as he recalled that day in Boston 21
"I wish he didn't share that story," Vincent said. "I was
sitting on the bench in Boston and he was having an incredible
Jordan's resume as an executive is inferior to his prowess as a
player -- and he's putting his reputation on the line behind the
unproven Vincent. While he has extensive coaching experience
overseas, Vincent has coached one year in the NBA -- as an
"When I look at Sam, I don't look at an inexperienced guy who
doesn't know how to utilize timeouts or doesn't know how to draw up
plays," Jordan said. "This is a great opportunity to do it on
this level. He's done it on other levels. He's paid his dues and
that's one of the things I've looked at.
"I think he's ready to make that big jump."
Vincent isn't shying away from the pressure to lead the
franchise to its first playoff berth next season, and to prove that
Jordan can successfully steer a team after being fired in
Washington four years ago.
"I absolutely, positively anticipate this team making the
playoffs, and I would be incredibly discouraged and disappointed if
we don't," said Vincent, who agreed to a three-year contract.
Strong words from Vincent, who takes over an expansion team that
has won 18, 26 and 33 games in its first three seasons. But with
Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Raymond Felton, the Bobcats have
developed a young core of talent under former coach and general
manager Bernie Bickerstaff, who will stay with the team in a new
role as executive vice president.
Jordan wanted a young coach in the mold of Avery Johnson, who
was an assistant for less than a year before taking over the
Mavericks. The 44-year-old Vincent worked under Johnson in Dallas
"We were looking for a young, energetic coach who knew the
game, understood the game and could help motivate our players,"
After a mediocre seven-year playing career, Vincent was
determined to be a head coach, and spanned the globe to do it. He
coached teams in South Africa, Greece and the Netherlands. He
coached in the NBA's developmental league, then led the Nigerian
women's team to its first Olympic win in 2004.
Vincent coached the Nigerian men's team a year later, before
returning to the NBDL as coach of the Fort Worth Flyers in 2005-06.
Johnson then asked him to join the Mavericks staff, where he caught
"He worked for a guy who won 67 games this year, and he had
little experience as a coach," said Bickerstaff, who was heavily
involved in the search.
Vincent was one of 10 candidates to interview, and was picked
ahead of veteran head coaches Paul Silas, Stan Van Gundy and Mike
Fratello and experienced assistants Lionel Hollins and Herb
Owner Bob Johnson, who has been criticized for not spending
enough, tried to diffuse speculation Vincent was hired so they
wouldn't have to pay big money to an experienced coach. Charlotte
had the lowest payroll in the league this season, and Johnson has
slashed front-office jobs.
"It was made with no restrictions and no limitations on his
ability to use the finances of the organization," Johnson said.
"And that will be the same as we follow through in acquiring the
best players that Michael, in his wisdom, deem necessary."