Michael Jordan – Face of Villainy?

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His Airness has come to the forefront as the voice of the NBA lockout’s hardline ownership group, the small-market owners who are calling for a severe overhall of the salaries and system of the NBA players’ collective bargaining agreement.

Some of the players are hurt by his position. How could their hero, who used to be one of them, try to take away all their hard-won gains?

Nick Young, a 2nd (if the season ever starts 3rd) year guard for the Washington Wizards, don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of him, tweeted the following: “i’m not wearin jordans no more cant believe what i just seen and heard from MJ.”

Now I don’t actually know what Michael said in the meeting. Lord knows he has all the tact of a SCUD missile, and we all know that nobody has defended Jordan as tenaciously as I have since Joe Dumars retired, but I think players need to acknowledge that Jordan’s situation is a little different from other owners. All that money that they are struggling not to lose… much of it came from his popularity. And the great terms of their contracts that they are seeking to maintain… his was one of the loudest voices in the ’98-’99 bargaining on the players’ behalf, after he retired. The idea that he’s taking away has to be balanced by an understanding that he provided.

Is Jordan just another greedy NBA kingpin trying to hold down the working class? Well, yeah. But this particular segment of the working class owes much of its current prosperity to his past perspiration and dedication to shilling himself. Jordan expanded the media and marking presence of the league more than any other individual, with the possible exception of Phil Knight. Hell, the best players in the game even owe their games (the chief marketable commodity of the NBA today) to him as well. Who would Kobe be without Jordan? Wade? LeBron?

Here’s my take: Michael Jordan can be a pugnacious, belligerent megalomaniac, and he can be a charitable, caring philanthropist. But right now he’s locked into a fight, and if there’s anything we know about Jordan, it’s that he can’t allow himself to lose. His teammates will tell you that the contest doesn’t end until Michael wins, whether it’s a basketball game, pool, cards, and I think we’re going to see the same is true of negotiations. Add to his hyper-competitive drive the fact that he isn’t playing with Paul Allen / Mark Cuban money, and he probably feels that to be able to compete on the court he actually needs to win this negotiation, and you get an intractable champion of the small-market owner contingent.

Do I agree with Jordan’s stance? Not at all. I don’t think paying players less or instituting a hard cap will result in competitive balance. But I do think players feeling betrayed need to take a step back and realize that the piece of the pie that Mike wants to take back is a piece of a pie he baked and they all just happened to find on their plates.

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One Response to “Michael Jordan – Face of Villainy?”

  1. pmadavi Says:

    That is a good point. If anyone on that side of the table has a real claim to that fat moneycake, it’s MJ.

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