Steve Clifford: Michael Jordan has perspective most owners don't have

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan's reputation as a teammate during his Hall of Fame playing career was considered at best demanding and at worst menacing.

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford, however, said Jordan's demeanor as the majority owner of the Hornets, and the person Clifford ultimately has to answer to, is far more inviting.

"To me, I think in many ways he's the best or the easiest owner to work for," Clifford said Friday before his team hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Clifford has a long history as an assistant coach under owners such as James Dolan, with the New York Knicks; Leslie Alexander, with the Houston Rockets; the DeVos family, with the Orlando Magic; and the Buss family, with the Los Angeles Lakers. He cited Jordan's experience as a player as the difference-maker.

"He's great," Clifford said. "We talk quite frequently actually, usually the day after games and things like that. He'll tell me what he likes and doesn't like, but the one thing where he's great is, one, he knows because he's very knowledgeable about our team and our league, and two, he always says, 'You're the coach.'

"There are things that we do that I feel we've improved on because of input I've gotten from him. But he's great. I've said before, coaches ask me all the time, particularly when we meet, you know, 'What's he like really?' I think he may be the easiest owner to work for, and because he has a feel for what four [games] in five nights is, what five in seven nights is, I could give you five or six examples of situations where things have gone badly, where he -- because he played -- he'll call and be much more reassuring than, 'Why did we play so poorly?'"

Clifford, who received a three-year contract extension from Jordan earlier this week, gave a specific example of Jordan offering his support last season.

"Last year it was [our fourth game] in five nights, we played Golden State, we were up six early in the fourth [quarter], we lose," Clifford said. "We're down 36, I think, in Atlanta the next night. [Jordan] called the [following] morning, and he said, 'I could have told you we'd have nothing left. We put too much into [Golden State].'

"I'm just saying not many people, let alone owners, would have that perspective."