Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan allegedly wants to hold the players' revenue share to 47 percent. This deviates from the 50-50 split the owners have publicly been targeting. This is a full 12 percent swing from the deal that just expired. This is the latest piece of unfortunate stories emanating from the negotiations that have left me forsaken to a life sans an NBA season. The troubling aspect of the Jordan stance is that he, of all owners, should be sympathetic to the players' demands. He famously went after Jerry Reinsdorf and Abe Pollin as a player when they took rigid stances during contract negotiations. His brand employs multiple NBA players and is still revered inside and outside the NBA. Jordan is sabotaging the negotiations and I, as an NBA fan, I am disappointed, but not surprised.
The problem stems from Jordan's arrogance. He still thinks he can play, he practiced with his team last year, and he implied during his hall-of-fame speech in 2009 that at 45 he could still play major minutes in the league. He still thinks that if he threw on a pair of baggy shorts, shaved his head, punched Steve Kerr in the face, and wagged the dust of his tongue that he would be able to drop 20 points on a 20-year-old. That supreme arrogance is why he is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time (wink and a nod to Bill Russell). That supreme arrogance is also why he is jumping through this tiny window of opportunity to rectify his mistakes as a GM and defend his legacy against Kobe Bryant and others trying to replace him atop the pantheon. That supreme confidence is why he thinks the media will continue bowing at his alter and not call him out on his hypocrisy. That supreme confidence is why he is now a complete sellout.
His hardline stance has as much to do with his allegiance to the other owners as it does with his dedication to his legacy. He has an opportunity to take money from the players that he feels owe him. He created this "look-at-me" era of isolation basketball, "look-at-me" contract negotiations, and he wants his commission checks. He wants a check for every single one of Kobe's game-winners, a dime off of every one of Lebron's global icon dollars, and check for every single time a shooting guard waved off a pick and tried to go Pee-Wee Kirkland. He is so arrogant that he ignores how much he would owe to Bird, Magic, and Russell if we followed his logic. He is so arrogant that he thinks the current golden age the NBA is entering is completely due to him.
The only thing that seems to supersede dollars with Jordan was glory and that is why he has grown brazen with each additional day of the lockout. He sees an opportunity to take years away from the biggest rivals to his legacy. The primacy effect has already set it with some contemporary NBA fans that feel emboldened enough to argue Kobe's superiority. NBA experts prognosticated that Lebron had the best opportunity to surpass Jordan, and even though that scenario seems far-fetched, currently, the belief is still there. Even ex-teammate, Scottie Pippen, believes that Lebron still has a chance to surpass Michael's legacy.
Michael has grown emboldened because he can take a year away from his greatest adversaries. If Jordan gets his way he will take money from the players and time from the rivals to his throne. One less year for Kobe to make it work with Pau and The Lakers. One less year for The Miami Heat to try and validate their existence. One less year Durant will have running alongside Westbrook and Ibaka. During Jordan's defensive MVP season he could only guard one player at a time - but this year he's d'ing up everyone gunning for the crown, which is why this is his greatest defensive effort.
During the final seconds of a close game Jordan would wave Pippen away, ignore any pick Horace Grant tried to set, wait until there were 8 seconds on the clock and go to work. Well, the time is running out on the season; Jordan just waved off Robert Sarver and ignored Dan Gilbert's pick, he sees an opportunity to close another game. The difference is that at the end of this game, even Jordan's a loser.