When Michael Jordan first bought a stake in the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006, he knew he was not likely to see immediate returns on his investment. And when he bought a majority-stake in the organization in 2010, Jordan remembered that patience was the key to making Charlotte one of the premiere teams in the NBA.
Flash forward four years and its first playoff appearance in its short history, and one can see the positive influence Michael Jordan has had on a formerly struggling NBA franchise. Being the intense competitor he is, though, Jordan is not going to settle for a seventh place finish in the Eastern Conference or for a first-round playoff exit. This offseason, Jordan expects the newly-minted Charlotte Hornets to acquire the key pieces it needs to become an elite NBA team.
''I always thought Charlotte was a great destination. 'Big Al has proven that you can come here and make a big difference. Hopefully we can look at that and attract some other superstars,'' Jordan stated.
Big Al, formal name Al Jefferson, was acquired last off-season by the Hornets, signing a three-year, $40.5 million contract. Jordan was terribly impressed and surprised by Jefferson's first year at Charlotte where he led the team in points and rebounds, being the only player in the Eastern Conference to average 20+ points and 10+ rebounds per game.
Luckily, Charlotte has the means by which to acquire other pieces to assist Jefferson on the court. The Hornets hold three picks in the 2014 NBA Draft - Nos. 9, 24, and 45 - along with nearly $19 million in salary cap space. Charlotte will most likely use these assets to acquire some offensive fire-power, seeing as the Bobcats ranked fifth in defensive efficiency last season but seemingly lacked offensive threats.
Jordan is not only focusing his rebuilding efforts on his team, however. On Monday, Jordan visited Hornets Nest Elementary to kick-off his new philanthropic venture, The Teacher Innovation Fund - a $250,000 grant given to teachers in hopes of leading to innovation and discovery in the classroom.
Kindergartner: "Are you still friends with all the cartoon guys from Space Jam?" Michael Jordan: "Of course! We go way back." #SwarmToServe
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) June 9, 2014
“This is just the start. I think once people understand what we’re doing and the impact of it, I’m pretty sure we’ll get other people to join this fight. If you want to have an impact on tomorrow, you must start by helping teachers,” Jordan voiced during his visit.
Both the team and community rebuilding projects come on the heels of a team-rebranding project. When Charlotte originally acquired an NBA team, it was called the Charlotte Hornets due to the legacy the people of Charlotte earned fighting against the British during the Revolutionary War. However, when the team was relocated to New Orleans in 2002, the name went with it and Charlotte was left with a new expansion team, the Charlotte Bobcats.
Now that New Orleans has changed its name to the Pelicans, Charlotte can once again reclaim its original name, a change people are unreasonably excited about: “Obviously the city loves the name change. We knew that it would be something like this because of the survey that we did. But we didn’t think it would be to this magnitude. We can build from this as an organization,” Jordan believes.
Image via Twitter