Thursday, May 06, 2004

Profiles in Courage: Jay Mariotti

This famed columnist from the Chicago Sun-Times has overcome many obstacles in recent years. For instance, while servicing Michael Jordan this week,  he somehow found the strength to write this article:

Jerry Reinsdorf, who has made a bloody mess of the Bulls, should talk to his various partners and arrange a piece of ownership for Jordan. It's the least the chairman can do after he and his colleagues made fortunes off of Michael for the better part of 15 years.

They also gave him 30 million dollars a year for his last couple of seasons. But whatever.

If you wonder why this franchise has grown stagnant since the dynasty was wreckingballed, the reasons go beyond the buffoonery of departed Jerry Krause. Reinsdorf simply doesn't care as much about the Bulls as he does his beloved White Sox, establishing a pecking order when he said he'd trade in his six NBA title rings for one World Series ring.

While its true that he is at heart a baseball fan,  Reinsdorf has opened the pocketbook many a time. And he said he has no qualms paying the luxury tax as long as the team is winning. So how else do you measure 'caring'. I don't know either.

While general manager and former teammate John Paxson has eagerly endorsed Jordan's return to the franchise -- "I'd welcome it, if that's what Michael wants,'' he said -- no one would want Jordan anywhere near the day-to-day basketball operation. Not only did he struggle in that role with the Wizards, he'd just get in Paxson's way.

Wow, I cannot believe this is Jay Mariotti writing this. I thought Michael could succeed at everything he wants, even if he doesn't want to put in the work. So I cannot hold Jordan's miserable record in the front office against him...or can I :)

An infusion of Jordan is precisely what the organization needs to regain its pride, if also its swagger. I would mandate he be at the United Center every night just so his presence can seep back into the franchise, on the court and off. He could counsel players, recruit free agents and mingle with fans. He could smoke cigars, talk to the media and schmooze big shooters.

Here's a list of the Wiz's transactions since '00-'01. I picked out Jordan's 'recruits'

3/13/00: Signed Don Reid

8/2/00: Wizards resign Jahidi White and Chris Whitney

10/5/00:Signed Harvey Grant to a free agent contract

7/18/01: Wizards resign Christian Laettner and sign free agent Tyronn Lue

7/26/01: Wizards resign Popeye Jones to one-year deal
9/20/01: Wizards sign Mike Smith

9/25/01: Michael Jordan signs a two-year contract

07/18/02: Signed free agent Larry Hughes

09/10/02: Signed free agent Bryon Russell

10/01/02: Signed free agent Bobby Simmons

10/12/02: Signed free agent Charles Oakley


Going through that transaction list, I was even being nice and included players he re-signed. Among those were Jahidi White and Christian Laettner, part of the all-star bad contacts club. And we don't need to go into the draft picks or trades.


Listen, Michael Jordan does not want to buy a team. He wants someone to give him one. Believing that his name alone would bring a surge in revenues. While the change in revenues was true for the Wizards....where are all these marquee free agents only he can 'schmooze'?  What I saw instead was a completely disastrous locker room situation that may have ruined the career of Kwame Brown and has left the Wizards in worse shape than before Jordan came in on his white steed. So as a Bulls fan, I have to say thanks for what you've done Michael, but stay away from my team.

All in all, the best player that Jordan recruited was...himself. But that's probably deep down what Mariotti wants anyway.