It wasn’t the newsiest section of Michael Jordan’s exclusive interview with The Observer Thursday – that would be either the part where he said he was going to own the Charlotte Bobcats for the “long haul” or when he said he had a definite “interest” in renaming the team the Charlotte Hornets if the New Orleans Hornets ever changed names themselves.
But here was one of the most interesting parts to me that came out of Michael Jordan’s 23-minute “state-of-the-team” interview with five Charlotte Observer sportswriters and editors Thursday on the eve of the team's season opener at home against Indiana Friday.
Jordan addressed the Bobcat players Monday to make sure they knew he endorsed new coach Mike Dunlap’s methods, including the three-hour-plus practices that Dunlap has been prone to holding (one even stretched to four hours). Jordan said he knew some players had been grumbling about the extra work – he didn’t name names – and wanted to set them straight.
“This is what championship teams do,” Jordan said he told the squad, adding that those practices reminded him of his own time in the league. “If we did it in Chicago and we became a championship team, why wouldn’t we want to do that here? If you turn your nose up to it, then maybe you need to look in the mirror and see that you’re a part of the problem.”
Jordan said he was particularly happy with Dunlap’s emphasis on fundamentals, such as: “Boxing out. Making good passes. Utilizing each other’s talents. Understanding basic basketball….. One of the reasons I felt compelled to speak to the team was, ‘Look, I endorse what Coach is talking about.’
“Unfortunately we had some guys who were not receiving it that way…. They didn’t want to do it. And I felt the need to step in and say, ‘Look, this is how we’re going to do this. The culture of what’s happening in Charlotte is going to be this. Either you buy in or you’re not going to be here.’
Jordan said he thought his message had been received, but that he wanted Dunlap to reiterate the message of getting back to basics all season.