CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan gave a one-on-one interview to the Charlotte Observer Wednesday before a general press conference with Charlotte media. Some of Jordan s responses:
Q: Your impressions of the NBA s new collective bargaining agreement as a small-market owner: What did you like about the final form and what do you wish had been there that didn t make the cut?
A: Overall, I think the CBA is better. Is it ultimately what we hoped for? No. Some of the things that are pluses: Shorter contracts and tax (increases on the big spenders)...
I would have liked to have seen more risk (shared) by the players. Economically it s a tough time for a lot of the markets, not just small markets. Could (the maximum length of) contracts have been shorter? Yeah, they could have been shorter. Could there have been guidelines allowing small-market teams to be more aggressive (in competition with) big markets? Yeah.
My whole thing with the CBA from Day 1 was competitive balance. That s better for everybody, not just the small markets.
Q: What was your reaction to David Stern vetoing the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers/
A: If you re a small market, you re happy. Obviously I understand where the player is coming from -- the habit of late has been to dictate where he goes. But as a small-market owner, I want to protect my market.
(Jordan said he wished the NBA had done away with the rule allowing extend-and-trade transactions. That because the backdrop for Carmelo Anthony forcing his way from Denver to New York.)
Q: You took some flak from some players concerning your labor situation. Did that register on you and do you have any concern that could hinder the Bobcats recruiting free agents?
A: I hope not, and I don t think it will. My stance with the CBA was I want to provide a championship-quality team to Charlotte. I was going out on a limb to protect that and obviously the players felt differently.
(Jordan was a vocal voice for the players during the 1998 lockout. He said the difference between then and now is not just that he s become an owner, but that now most NBA teams lose money, where then most teams made money).
I m not anti-player. As a businessman, I want everybody to be happy. I do feel players should assume more risk, especially when (owners now) assume all the risk. There are no non-guaranteed contracts.
Q: How soon can this be a competitive team?
A: I want it to be today, but there are certain things you have to take into consideration, like (salary) cap space. Does that mean we have to get into a high draft pick this year (by losing a lot)? I don t know -- I m afraid to admit to that.
In some ways we ll have to build through the draft but we should also go into free-agency. Can I put a timetable to that? It s hard to say.
Q: Talk about the rookies.
A: (Bismack) Biyombo reminds me so much -- I don t want to compare him, but -- of (Hakeem) Olajuwon. He had skills and he was all about work ethic and I think this kid is, too.
(On Kemba Walker): When he has the ball, he knows anytime he can score. He was patient. He wasn t rushing. He attacked. He dissected. That s an unbelievable advantage. You can t react to something without understanding it. This kid has that. Granted, he s 5-10 (listed as 6-1). But those are things I saw in him that are hard to give to other people.
Q: If you were still a player, what would it take for you to want to come to Charlotte to play?
A: Support of the city. Looking at the talent (already there), the commitment from the organization, the coaching staff (to winning). And me, I m looking to turn it into something great. Not maybe to start at the bottom, but to see if I can carry that weight of the city s desire to win.
That s what I was all about. Maybe some of these kids have a little different perspective. Chicago put its faith in me to win. Maybe we can find a guy with that same emotion. The city is starving for a winner, and maybe I can find that player who says, Hey, I can make a difference. I hope there are still players out there with that same perspective.