MJ Responds to Larry Brown, Defends Bobcats Front Office

by April 25, 2012

After Larry Brown made some harsh comments directed at Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats, the oft-quiet MJ came out and defended his team and its execs. Here’s what the legend had to say:

From the Charlotte Observer:

“It’s absolutely wrong that I don’t want guys to challenge me. And the people who say that aren’t in the room,’’ Jordan told the Observer.

“The idea that people can’t do that is just wrong. Curtis (Polk, team vice chairman) has worked with me for over 20 years and he’s never had a problem telling me, ‘no.’ Rod (Higgins, president of basketball operations) has no problem telling me no. Fred (Whitfield, team president) has no problem telling me ‘no.’ And Rich (Cho, the team’s general manager) is about as direct and candid a person as you’ll ever meet.’’

Jordan also said Wednesday morning that while the Bobcats are in rebuilding mode, he never planned –or anticipated – a season where the team would finish last in the league, much less possibly with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

His team has lost 21 games in a row, but he insisted this season’s results won’t dissuade him from the rebuilding plan that started with the trades of veterans Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson last winter and spring.

“This was going to be a trying year – we knew that,” Jordan said. “But did we want to chase the most Ping-Pong balls (in the May 30 draft lottery)? No way.’’

“Ever since I’ve owned the team (buying control from Bob Johnson in March 2010), I think we’ve made some very positive moves on the business side. We had to make a difficult decision to turn over the (basketball) talent.

“This year the talent we had didn’t respond, but that doesn’t cause me to turn my back on the plan.’’

Jordan said he didn’t expect such harsh criticism from Brown, a fellow former North Carolina player, but it also didn’t “surprise’’ him after Jordan let Brown go in December of 2010.

“I imagine he was pretty upset we chose to change directions,’’ Jordan said of Brown, a Hall of Fame coach who is known to be high-maintenance with his front office. As long-time NBA executive Donnie Walsh used to say of close friend Brown, he’s not happy unless he’s unhappy.

Brown suggested on the Dan Patrick show that Jordan placed “spies’’ in the basketball operation “wondering what we were doing and getting back to him.’’

“I’m pretty sure he’s talking about Rod and (head athletic trainer) Steve Stricker, and I don’t think that’s an accurate description of either one of them,’’ Jordan said.

Brown went on to say “a coach, a general manager and a president all have to be attached at the hip.’’

Jordan’s response: “He had a lot of input on whatever we did. I never sidestepped him in making a decision. I gave my advice as a former player. I thought we developed a trust where everyone could share his opinion. I gave my input, but I wasn’t the only one whose opinion counted.

“I didn’t always agree with what he recommended, but I thought that was healthy. The owner, the coach and the general manager should be able to all disagree. I’d like to think that’s the healthiest approach.’’