CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte Bobcats part-owner Michael
Jordan says he's disappointed with his team's record this season
and vows that management will "spend what it takes" to attract
top talent in the offseason.
In a letter to be mailed to season ticket holders this week,
Jordan went into detail about the state of the team for the first
time since he bought a minority stake last June and was given final
say in all personnel decisions.
The Bobcats are 19-33 this season -- last in their division and
fourth worst in the Eastern Conference.
"As excited as I am about the future, if you know anything
about me, you know how much I hate to lose -- and I speak for all
the owners in that regard," wrote Jordan, the team's managing
member of basketball operations. "But we are able to temper this
disappointment with thoughts of our youth and inexperience, and the
idea that we will continue to improve -- hopefully, more quickly
than even we expect.
"With that said, we remain committed to our plan to grow the
franchise through the draft and the addition of key free agents."
Despite his iconic status in his home state of North Carolina,
Jordan has remained behind the scenes in Charlotte. He has not
talked to local media in nearly nine months and even instructs
arena staff not to show him on the video board during games.
His stance has left many wondering about the franchise, which
has struggled to win over fans since the Charlotte Hornets' ugly
departure for New Orleans in 2002.
Some fans worry that majority owner Bob Johnson won't spend
enough money for players to make the team competitive. The Bobcats,
in their third season, largely avoided last season's free agent
class and have the lowest payroll in the NBA, by far. In addition,
leading scorer Gerald Wallace can opt out his contract after this
season and become a free agent.
"As widely reported, we currently 'enjoy' the lowest payroll in
the NBA -- which in essence means we have the most salary cap room
in the league," Jordan wrote. "And it is our intention to spend
what it takes to attract the 'right' talent to our team, whether
through free agent signings or trades. We will add players that not
only will contribute on the court, but fit into our hard-working
and team-oriented culture."
Jordan didn't mention Bernie Bickerstaff, the team's coach and
general manager, in the letter. Bickerstaff was hired to run the
basketball operations shortly after the Bobcats were formed, but
now must run all decisions through Jordan. It's unclear whether
Bickerstaff will return in either role next season.
Jordan also believes Adam Morrison, Charlotte's first-round pick
last year, will develop into a solid NBA scorer despite shooting
woes this season.
That is the hope for Jordan, a five-time MVP who won six NBA
titles in 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and is now getting a
second chance at running a team. He was hired as president of
basketball operations for the Washington Wizards in 2000, but fired
in 2003 after the team struggled.
Jordan says this time he wants to focus on basketball and not be
part of the "dog-and-pony show" of marketing.
"I write this letter not only to provide you with an update on
the status and direction of the team, but also to ask you for your
continued support and commitment," Jordan wrote. "We not only
need to keep our team's solid core together; we need to keep the
nucleus of our fan base together, especially our season ticket
holders -- the lifeblood of our future.
"So, please maintain the same drive, passion, and commitment
that I have. Work with me and the entire organization to help our
team excel beyond all of our dreams and expectations. It won't be
easy -- greatness never is -- but, with dedication, effort, and
teamwork, I am confident we will get it done."