Thursday, November 10, 2011

MJ's Actions are Just Like Mike

I found this article by Jason Whitlock on a RealGM forum and posted a response there.  Here is a modified version of that response:  

I'm not as knowledgable about business as some here, but speaking from the perspective of somebody in a line of work related to Mr. Whitlock- I didn't like that article. It was way too easy to write, and was ironic itself considering the claims at the top of his page: that he musters the courage to say things most won't.

Michael Jordan is simply being the best owner he can be.  
Most journalists don't make basketball owners- white or black, MJ or non-MJ- out to be slave owners. Not because it's too hard, but because it's such a simplistic view of the relationship between owners and players. It's wrong. It's dumb. 

I'm not saying playing the race card or making a controversial analogy is never warranted, but it wasn't in this scenario.

Some have been making a point about the irony of MJ's position in this dispute after having a different position a decade prior. I, more than most, get the irony. I don't think it's necessarily hypocritical, however. 

Jordan going from player- best player in the league- to owner of a middling basketball team is a stark crossover. But let's not go overboard here: it's not slave becoming slave owner. It's more like union electrical engineer becoming the head of Verizon's wireless communications wing. I may not have been creative with that comparison, but it's better than Whitlock's, and more apt to boot. 

Jordan's a different person now; nobody is who they were ten years before. People can be many things; father, son, lawyer, gardening addict, procrastinator, and dabbler in painting can describe one person. 

Michael Jordan doesn't play basketball now. He wasn't an owner when he made the comments about Abe Pollin, and lent those words out to help the people in his position, including himself, get the best deal possible. You can at least credit him with giving consistent effort for whichever side he's on. 

If one wants to critique Michael Jordan as being selfish and greedy, there are better ways to do it. Is he selfish and greedy? Probably. That's a weakness to have as a player. That's probably a strength to have as an owner and a business man. I can't fault him for trying to extract the best deal possible for himself. 

That's why I can't fault him for doing what he's doing to the players either. He doesn't owe them a damn thing, and they don't owe him a damn thing. Not in the arena of business. Basketball arena, yeah. Business arena, no. Why would they owe each other anything? 

If players feel they are entitled to have MJ in their corner here, well, it's their own fault for confusing their basketball idol with a selfless person and/or a possibly bad businessman, and being pulled in by the fantastic marketing of the Jordan brand. Go ahead, don't wear Jordans anymore. Congratulations, you finally realize you didn't need to wear them in the first place. 

The NBA is a sports league, which means it's an entertainment league, which means it's a business, the same as in Rome 2000 years ago. If you're going to enter the industry, keep your head on a swivel before it ends up on a spike. 

I do wish that in general, Michael Jordan was more like Bill Russell in a sense that he was more socially conscious. But he doesn't need to be. He chose the right business for himself. As it did for all those ringless 90's stars, it sucks for the players today that MJ is who he is, if for different reasons.  

1 comment:

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