One-on-One with Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan sits down for an exclusive interview with Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher of Cigar Aficionado.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Michael Jordan, July/August 2005
(continued from page 8)
MRS: They didn't have anybody coming to games.
JORDAN: The first thought was, Let's reduce the losses. That's what the Knicks and some of these other teams have to do today. You have to get rid of some of the bad contracts so you create as much flexibility as quickly as possible. That way, you can more easily change the team and change the attitudes, and get some younger talent and hungry players. You have to get some new people in there.
I feel like we did that in the first couple of years in Washington. We got rid of all the bad contracts and we put ourselves in a position where we weren't losing as much money. We put ourselves in the position to get profitable as quickly as possible.
When [Wizards owner] Abe [Pollin] decided not to hire me back as president of basketball operations, I felt the team was in a great position. People consider that to be a bad experience for me, but you look at that team and how much flexibility they had and how much room they [had] under the cap, and they were able to go out and get some of these players.
I think my management team did a good job of helping turn the Wizards around. We may not get the credit, but that's all well and good. We did what we were asked to do, which was two things: Help the franchise get back into the financial plus side, which I think they are strong today in that area. And the second thing was build young talent. That's where they are today, and they are very successful and winning.
Ernie [Grunfeld, president of basketball operations] has gone in there and done a great job with the coaching staff and gotten the players together. We look at what we did, and we gave him a good base to build on. And we will never get the credit for it. So people look at that as a negative for me, but it was a learning experience, because I did some good things right and a couple of things bad.
I'd like to go in somewhere now with a little bit more time, and with an ownership stake where I can implement my own views about certain things and take a program and make it successful.
MRS: Do today's contracts, which make young kids instant millionaires, end up slowing down or holding back their own performance because they are so financially secure that they are not giving the kind of effort that you gave to the game?
JORDAN: Values have changed. Those were the days where no matter what you got paid, you played the game to play the game. There are players—some of the young players—who are playing the game for what they are going to get paid. I think that has a lot to do with the success of the NBA. It's a very profitable organization. It's very marketable. There's a lot of outside income that can be generated in terms of what's happening on the basketball court. Yes, it has changed. But you still find a lot of players who play basketball for the love of the game. And those players aren't affected by what they are getting paid.
MRS: Do you have a secret dream of one day waking up and you own the Chicago Bulls?
JORDAN: I would love to own the Chicago Bulls because of what the franchise provided to me. It would give me the opportunity to move it further into a successful program. But I do understand that Jerry Reinsdorf is a good owner. He is a very good businessman. He has a family that enjoys the game of basketball. And I totally understand his maintaining his ownership of the Bulls.
MRS: What about other cities?
JORDAN: I would love to look at other scenarios and see what from an economic standpoint best suits me.
MRS: You know what I was thinking. You're going to be involved in a real estate venture in Las Vegas, and I don't think they have a team there. Wouldn't that be hot?
JORDAN: I'd love to own a franchise in Las Vegas. But who wouldn't? The opportunity it provides just from being in Las Vegas creates a great economic situation. But it's not just Michael Jordan who would find that attractive. You could find a lot of other potential owners or investors who'd like to own a team in Las Vegas. Will it happen? I don't know.
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Ron Comrie — Lakewood Ranch, Florida, United States, — December 26, 2012 1:49pm ET
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