Jordan & the Bobcats: How Will He Fare?

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When the news broke that there was a prospective buyer for the Charlotte Bobcats in early January, it appeared that Michael Jordan’s time as owner of the team was about to run out.

But, just as his days as a player, Jordan came through in the clutch.

After assembling a group of investors and arranging to buy the team, Michael Jordan has fully committed himself to being the full owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, buying the team from Bob Johnson (whom the team is “named” for). The NBA owners are expected to approve Jordan’s ownership by late March. As the ‘Cats look toward their first playoff berth in the six seasons in the NBA, and are just a few wins away from breaking their franchise record for victories (35), MJ has his work cut out for him.

The city of Charlotte has been burned by bad ownership. Hornets owner George Shinn demanded a new arena, and after a sexual assault charge and alienating the city, and a failed referendum for a new arena, Shinn picked up and moved the Hornets to New Orleans in 2002. In fact, Shinn was in negotiations with Michael Jordan for ownership of the Hornets, but would not relinquish basketball operations to Jordan, and that caused Jordan to back out of the agreement. The Hornets could have still been in Charlotte had Shinn gave MJ that power.

Two years later, Bob Johnson, the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, paid the $300M price tag for the new Charlotte team, enabling him to become the first black majority owner in sports. However, Johnson never was involved in the city of Charlotte, and was virtually an absentee owner. To make it as a owner in a city that has been (and still is) jaded by the NBA is not the best way to be successful. Despite the improvement and the hard play of the Bobcats in their franchise history, Johnson was an absentee owner, and now that Jordan, who was just as much absent as Johnson, can not make the same mistakes now that it is his money.

So far, things are looking on the bright side.

Jordan has attended four Bobcats home games this season, and Charlotte is 3-1 in those games, they are currently 7th in the Eastern Conference, and are at .500 at the latest point in the season in their six years of existence. Jordan is so far simply showing he wants to take this venture seriously by just showing up. The second part of this is embracing the local Charlotte media. We do know that MJ is not (and always hasn’t been) media accessible, but in this role, and a market like Charlotte, he needs to be present, and expand the team’s presence past the Charlotte area and into the state of North Carolina (and South Carolina). Some fans have called for a name change from Bobcats, and it will be up to Jordan for that change.

Finally, Jordan will need to try to lure the top NBA talent to Charlotte and make right decisions for a winner. Will he spend to get a winner, or will he be thrifty with his money? He did have a few bad decisions while being here (drafting Adam Morrison), but he has made good decisions (picking up Stephen Jackson from the Golden State Warriors and Tyrus Thomas from the Chicago Bulls) to improve the fortunes of the franchise

Jordan has the drive and the passion to be a successful owner in the NBA. He has a lot to prove to the city of Charlotte though. As long as he is visible and accessible to Bobcats season ticket holders and fans, and the Charlotte media, and of course, build a winner, the love affair between the city and NBA will return, and allow the franchise to be the hottest ticket in town.


Dallas Mavericks: Can We Believe?

The Dallas Mavericks have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA since their big trade with the Washington Wizards. They have currently reeled off 12 straight victories, and are within three games of the Los Angeles Lakers for the top spot in the Western Conference.There is only one problem though.

Can we believe in the Mavericks?

There is reason to plant seeds of doubt in Dallas. In 2006, the Mavs reached the NBA Finals, and had a 2-0 lead on the Miami Heat. But the Heat reeled off four straight victories and ended up as NBA Champions. The series defeat left the Mavericks with a bitter taste in their mouths and a newfound motivation to get back to the Finals and claim what they felt was theirs.

Then came the ultimate embarrassment.

The Mavericks entered the 2006-07 NBA season with that goal of winning the NBA Championship, and ended up with a league best (and franchise best 67-15 record). The end result: a 4-2 series loss to the Golden State Warriors and becoming the first #8 seed to beat a #1 seed in a best-of-seven series, and pulling off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history, and regarding the Dallas Mavericks as one of the biggest choke artists in league history.

After another disappointing first round exit at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets in 2008 that signified of the Avery Johnson era, the Mavs turned to Rick Carlisle for the 2008-09 season, and the Mavs got eliminated in the second round by the Denver Nuggets, it took a trade deadline move in the 2009-10 season that sent Josh Howard, James Singleton, and Drew Gooden to Washington and in exchange, the Mavericks got Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson. Since the trade, the Mavericks are 12-1 (only loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder) and have elevated themselves into a legitimate contender in the Western Conference. Butler is a scorer who can take the pressure of Dirk Nowitzki, Haywood is a strong rebounder and very durable and can handle the post along w/ Erick Dampier and allows Nowitzki to be a 7′ SF, and Stevenson has the mindset of an enforcer, and his defense and scoring spurts are definitely welcome. Put these elements, and Jason Kidd and Nowitzki together, and a decent bench, and the Mavericks have a chance to do some serious damage. The trade worked out for Josh Howard as well, as he got out of Dallas (although his season ended w/ an ACL injury) and improved the overall team chemistry in the Mavericks organization.

The Mavericks are legit contenders, but we have seen them buckle under the pressure of being a legit contender. They have this season to exercise demons, but there is only one question.

Are they up for the challenge, and can this be a team to believe in?

Washington Capitals: Team of Destiny?

Could there be a very small comparison of the Washington Capitals in the NHL to the New Orleans Saints of the NFL?

Two franchises that haven’t seen much success are reaching new heights that have never been seen before. Both teams have stars (Alex Ovechkin in Washington, Drew Brees in New Orleans) and a dynamic supporting cast.

But the comparisons really stop there.

While the Saints have always had the hearts of fans in New Orleans, despite the losing ways and the days of the ‘Aints, the Capitals are currently the hottest ticket in Washington (and the most successful franchise in Washington over the past few years), but they are still viewed as third-rate to a lot of people in their own city (to the Redskins and Wizards). With the current winning streak they are on (a franchise-record 14 straight) and no other team in the NHL holding a candle to them, it seems as though the stars (not Dallas) are aligned to bring Lord Stanley’s cup to the nation’s capital.

Unlike the San Jose Sharks, who looked like the team of destiny a year ago before choking in the first round against the Anaheim Ducks, the Washington Capitals know how to get the job done. They have won in every way imaginable. They have got off to fast starts and been consistent, they found ways to win the close games, and in a similarity to the Saints (again), no lead is safe with this team. That was proven yesterday when they came back from a 4-1 deficit Sunday afternoon to beat their archrival Pittsburgh Penguins in over time 5-4. Fans braved through the snow and showed up in full force. It just seems as if the Caps are not going to lose any time soon and that this team is a team of destiny. And this is a team that is more than just Ovechkin. Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Alexander Semin are just among the few players that makes this team go. Don’t forget about the coaching of Bruce Boudreau, he has done a great job of making sure this team handles their business night in and night out.

If the Capitals can keep this momentum up after the Olympic break, they will easily win the President’s Trophy. However, they still have to exercise demons of last year and losing to the Penguins in the second round of the playoffs a year ago. They definitely have what it takes to get it done, and have everyone in DC Rocking the Red.

Time will tell what that destiny holds.

Super Bowl XLIV Recap

The last game of the NFL season was last night (due to the Pro Bowl being the week before the Super Bowl) and it was Super Bowl XLIV. The favorite, the Indianapolis Colts have been there, done that, and was looking for their second championship in four years. The New Orleans Saints, the underdogs, were looking to cap an unbelievable season with their first ever world championship. To the recap.

New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17- The resiliency. The passion. The love affair between a city and its football team was in full force. After many years of failure, the Saints are on top of the world as champions. Drew Brees tied a Super Bowl record by going 32-39 for 288 yards, and threw two touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints claimed their first ever NFL Championship by beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17, setting off what will be a month long celebration for the city of New Orleans with the Super Bowl victory and Mardi Gras. The Saints took risks and made bold chances, and they would all pay off in the end.

But it wasn’t easy.

The Colts got off to a fast start in the first quarter. After a Matt Stover field goal made it 3-0, Peyton Manning, who went 31-45 for 333 yards with a touchdown and an interception (to be discussed later), and engineered a 96 yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon to make it 10-0, giving Indianapolis two scores on its first two drives. The Saints would get on the board in the second quarter with two Garrett Hartley field goals to cut the lead to 10-6 at halftime.

Then Brees went to work in the second half, but it took a bold move for the momentum to shift.

Saints’ head coach Sean Payton called for an onside kick to start the second half and the gamble paid off. Thomas Morstead’s kick was recovered by Chris Reis, and that set up Brees’ first touchdown of the game, a 16 yard pass to Pierre Thomas to give New Orleans their first lead of the game, 13-10. Manning responded by leading a drive which resulted in Joseph Addai’s four yard touchdown run that put Indianapolis up 17-13. After a Hartley field goal (his third of the game) cut the lead to 17-16, the momentum swung in the Saints’ favor again when Matt Stover’s 51 yard field goal went wide left.

New Orleans would take the lead for good when Brees found Jeremy Shockey for a two yard touchdown pass, and followed up with a two point conversion to make it 24-17. With one last chance, Peyton Manning engineered a drive, but was picked off by Tracy Porter, who took it back 74 yards to seal the victory for the Saints and set off a wild celebration on Bourbon Street and Biscayne Blvd., with many fans shouting “Who Dat” in the streets of New Orleans and Miami.

For the Saints and Drew Brees, it has been a match made in heaven. Signing on with the team in 2006, he has been the emotional leader and rebuilding the relationship between the Saints and the city of New Orleans, a Super Bowl victory gives this city the pride that it richly deserves. This isn’t your grandfather or your father’s Saints, where they were affectionately known as the ‘Aints. This team has reached an elite status, and now with the elite status means they are going to be the hunted, and not be the hunters anymore.

For Manning and the Colts, they got outplayed and the heart of the Saints was much stronger. One thing that the Colts never did was be overconfident. They were rattled at the onside kick, and the debate on if Manning made a bad throw could be made, but it was simply a good read by Tracy Porter, and a lack of defense by Reggie Wayne as a receiver. Manning could have cemented his legacy, but the destiny was in favor of the Saints. Congratulations New Orleans, you are the 2009 NFL World Champions! Who Dat!

NBA Rankings (1/25)

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (34-11)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (33-11)
3. Boston Celtics (28-13)
4. Denver Nuggets (29-14)
5. Atlanta Hawks (28-14)
6. Dallas Mavericks (29-15)
7. Orlando Magic (29-15)
8. Portland Trail Blazers (27-18)
9. San Antonio Spurs (25-17)
10. Utah Jazz (25-18)
11. Phoenix Suns (26-19)
12. Houston Rockets (24-19)
13. Memphis Grizzlies (23-19)
14. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-20)
15. Miami Heat (23-20)
16. New Orleans Hornets (23-20)
17. Toronto Raptors (23-22)
18. Charlotte Bobcats (21-21)
19. Chicago Bulls (20-22)
20. Los Angeles Clippers (20-23)
21. Milwaukee Bucks (18-24)
22. New York Knicks (17-26)
23. Philadelphia 76ers (15-28)
24. Detroit Pistons (15-28)
25. Sacramento Kings (15-28)
26. Indiana Pacers (15-29)
27. Washington Wizards (14-29)
28. Golden State Warriors (13-29)
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-36)
30. New Jersey Nets (3-40)

NBA Rankings (1/19)

The NBA Rankings are on schedule. Due to the MLK Holiday, and the daytime games, we here at TSX decided to wait until Tuesday to release the rankings. It’s a short week, and the Rankings will be back next Monday.

With that said, did the Lakers remain at #1 for the fourth week in a row? Who is rising and making some serious noise right now? Are the New Jersey Nets really on pace for the worst record in NBA history. Let’s go to the Rankings…

1. Los Angeles Lakers (32-9) (previous ranking: 1) The Lake Show has gotten the job done. And they are getting production from everybody in the process. The bench has done a great job picking up the slack when Kobe Bryant struggles, as displayed against the Orlando Magic.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (31-11) (previous ranking: 2) The Cavs are #2 for the fourth straight week, but the good news is that Boston’s struggles due to injuries have given them a little bit of separation in the East. They need to take advantage of this time.

3. Boston Celtics (27-12) (previous ranking: 3) Boston has been ravaged by injuries. They have done well until now. The lack of depth and the thin bench is showing. These guys need to heal up by April to have any shot of a run for an 18th championship.

4. Dallas Mavericks (27-14) (previous ranking: 4) The Mavericks are still a team to watch out for. As good as they are, can they keep this momentum in the playoffs. It is good to see them keeping pace with the Lakers.

5. Denver Nuggets (26-14) (previous ranking: 9) The Nuggets had a 3-0 week, and that was good enough to boost them up four spots and into the top 5. Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are healthy again, and with Ty Lawson complimenting them, the Nuggets are priming to make noise in the West again. The Lakers better watch out.

6. Atlanta Hawks (26-14) (previous ranking: 6) 3-1 week puts Atlanta in first place in the Southeast Division. One thing about them is that once they get into first place, they get too comfortable and struggle. Mike Woodson needs to keep his team focused.

7. Orlando Magic (26-15) (previous ranking: 5) Another 1-3 week for Orlando. The passion that this team had a year ago is not there. And they are much deeper than last year. Is Stan Van Gundy beginning to lose his voice in Orlando?

8. San Antonio Spurs (25-15) (previous ranking: 7) The Spurs climb up the rankings took a tumble despite a 3-1 week. The Nuggets surge and the Hawks decent week knocked them back a spot, but this team is starting to get going again, and eventually they will overtake Dallas in the Southwest Division.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (25-17) (previous ranking: 10) The Trail Blazers found ways to win when Brandon Roy is out, which is good. They did do better this week, with a 2-1 record as opposed to last week.

10. Phoenix Suns (24-18) (previous ranking: 8] The Suns are fading, and losing to red hot Charlotte, Atlanta and Memphis on the road are examples of why. They are 9-14 on the road and are showing that the West-to-East trips are not the best kind.

11. Oklahoma City Thunder (23-18) (previous ranking: 12) The Thunder are just going to be better and better in time. Sam Presti has gone young, and this team is thriving. Many are talking Kobe and LeBron for MVP, but can we get a mention for Kevin Durant?

12. Houston Rockets (23-18) (previous ranking: 11) The Rockets had a 2-2 week, but there is no room for mediocrity in the West. They have the Thunder, Jazz, Hornets, and out of nowhere, the Grizzlies to worry about. They need consistency night in and night out.

13. Utah Jazz (23-18) (previous ranking: 14) A 3-1 week puts the Jazz up a spot as they try to keep pace with the Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Hornets out West. The question with them now is: Are they going to trade Carlos Boozer. This team is starting to win more, but they are strapped for cash. We shall see.

14. Memphis Grizzlies (22-18) (previous ranking: 16) The Grizzlies have won nine straight at home, a franchise record, and are in fourth place in the Southwest Division. Had this been mentioned at the start of the season, there probably would’ve been a lot of crazy looks. Zach Randolph has been an impressive leader for this team, and is making everyone look better and keep their focus. Michael Heisley has to be pleased.

15. New Orleans Hornets (21-19) (previous ranking: 13) 2-3 week for the Hornets has them in the cellar in the Southwest Division at 21-19. Go figure. They need to win as much as they can to keep in the hunt, especially with the Grizzlies playing so well.

16. Charlotte Bobcats (20-19) (previous ranking: 19) Five straight wins, eight straight wins at home, and great defense has the surprising Bobcats up three spots in the rankings, and #5 in the Eastern Conference. This is the first time in team history that Charlotte has had a winning record at this point.

17. Miami Heat (20-19) (previous ranking: 15) Miami went 2-2 for the week, and lost two spots due to the surges of the Grizzlies and Bobcats. This team is a lot better than their record is showing. At least on paper.

18. Toronto Raptors (21-20) (previous ranking: 17) Bosh & Bargnani are playing some dynamic ball, and the Raptors finally have a winning record after all these weeks. If there is a rumor that the Raptors will trade Bosh (specifically to the Lakers), keep dreaming. It’s likely he will leave, but Bryan Colangelo will do everything in his power for him to stay.

19. Chicago Bulls (18-21) (previous ranking: 21) The Bulls had a 3-1 week. Again. As soon as Vinny del Negro is written off, he has a good week. Maybe people need to continue to tell him he’s going to be gone as a head coach.

20. Los Angeles Clippers (18-22) (previous ranking: 18) 1-4 week plus the news that Blake Griffin is done for the year. Not a good week at all for the Clippers. They were getting competitive in the West, but could be reverting to old ways.

21. New York Knicks (17-24) (previous ranking: 22) 2-3 week moves the Knicks up a spot. This team is slowly coming around, as they are just two games out the final playoff spot in the East at the halfway point. There is hope in the Big Apple.

22. Milwaukee Bucks (16-23) (previous ranking: 20) The Bucks went 1-4 this week, and received news that Michael Redd was done for the season (again) with a torn ACL (the same one from last year). They are on the verge of signing Jerry Stackhouse, but that won’t have much of an impact.

23. Sacramento Kings (15-25) (previous ranking: 23) The answer to the Kings peaking the previous week is confirmed. They have peaked after an 0-4 week. It was a good run while it lasted. Ever notice this team plays better WITHOUT Kevin Martin?

24. Indiana Pacers (14-26) (previous ranking: 28) How the Pacers missed Danny Granger. The comments about the Pacers improving are taken back. Even though Al Jefferson did have 26 rebounds in a game which would REALLY help Indiana.

25. Detroit Pistons (14-26) (previous ranking: 26) The Pistons losing streak was stopped at 13, and they responded with a 3-1 week. Can this team be on the mend fully and engineer a turnaround? Despite the 14-26 record, they are 4 1/2 games out of 8th in the East.

26. Washington Wizards (14-26) (previous ranking: 24) The Wizards are moving on with out the Gilbert Arenas fiasco. The only problem is that the big contract they gave him. It could get ugly. Still a long process before the “divorce” is finalized.

27. Philadelphia 76ers (13-27) (previous ranking: 27) 2-2 week for the Sixers, and they stay right at the same spot. No change for them and nothing to say really. The team is loaded with talent, and it’s sad to see that talent being wasted.

28. Golden State Warriors (12-27) (previous ranking: 25) The Warriors are an even more of a disaster now than they have ever been all season. They play no defense, and they don’t have another scorer aside from Monta Ellis. Not much for even a good coach like Don Nelson to work with.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-33) (previous ranking: 29) Well it is good to see that Minnesota will avoid the 9 win mark. Unless they lose the next 40 games. That would be very scary.

30. New Jersey Nets (3-37) (previous ranking: 30) So if this was the case after 41 games, if the Nets post the same record over the next 41 games, they’d finish at either 8-74 or 6-76. The team is back, they have given up. Sad to see.

Be back next Monday with a new edition of Rankings.

NFL Divisional Playoff Recap

The Divisional Playoffs are over with, and we are now into the final four. Super Bowl trips to Miami will be on the line, and it is clear that three of the top four teams in the NFL showed up, and one team has gone back to their roots and decided to crash the party.

Arizona 14, New Orleans 45- All this talk about the Saints faltering was just that… talk. The Saints put on a show in their first ever game as the top seed in the NFC, and the magical run continued with Drew Brees picking apart the Arizona defense much like Aaron Rodgers did with the Green Bay Packers. The only difference in this game: The Saints had a defense to compliment the offense, and behind Brees’ three touchdown passes, and two Reggie Bush touchdowns (one run, one punt return). The Cardinals, the defending NFC East champions, appeared to have set the tone early for a shootout, scoring on the opening drive to go up 7-0, but the Saints responded with 21 unanswered points, and eventually outscored Arizona 45-7 the rest of the way. Arizona set a new NFL record for most points allowed in two playoff games (90), and it could be the end of a career for Kurt Warner, who according to a source, was retiring after the playoffs, but Warner will take time to think his decision through. The Saints will host the NFC Championship game, but against who?

Ravens 3, Colts 20- Peyton Manning went 30-44, for 246 yards, with two touchdowns, and the Colts defense shut down the rushing game of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee and also forced four turnovers as well. Manning threw touchdown passes to Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne in the first half to cruise to a 17-3 halftime lead. The Ravens, whose only scoring came from a Billy Cundiff field goal, just could not get anything going, and a season removed from being a game from the Super Bowl, they get handed their eighth straight loss to Indianpolis, and with the Colts’ victory, Manning got his first win after a bye-week. He was 0-3 coming into the playoffs after a week of rest in his career.

Dallas 3, Minnesota 34- Brett Favre’s revival continues. The opportunity to play for a championship and a Super Bowl was what he wanted, and he had possibly the best game of his career in the postseason. Favre threw four touchdowns (three to Sidney Rice), and the Vikings defense sacked Dallas QB Tony Romo six times and forced him into three turnovers, and Minnesota punched a ticket to New Orleans to face the Saints for the NFC Championship. Favre went 15-24 for 234 yards, but created a stir among the Cowboys, with a late touchdown score. Dallas LB Keith Brooking took exception for that Minnesota was running up the score on his team. Expect a great game in the Duel at the Dome for a trip to the Super Bowl between the Vikings and Saints.

NY Jets 17, San Diego 14- The party crashers have arrived in the form of Gang Green. The New York Jets’ rookies came of age and are maturing in the two short weeks of the playoffs. Shonn Greene ran for 128 yards, including a 53 yard TD run that proved to be the difference, and created yet another San Diego jolt in the team’s recent run. This game reminded the Charger fans of the 14-2 season that led to Marty Schottenheimer’s firing. Philip Rivers threw for 298 yards on 27-40 passing, but he threw a costly interception which led to his counterpart, rookie Mark Sanchez to find Dustin Keller for a 3 yd pass to put New York up 10-7. Greene’s run put New York up 17-7. The Chargers scored on a Rivers’ QB sneak, but the Jets sealed the victory on 4th & 1 to move on and punch their ticket to Indianapolis.

Check back Saturday for the Conference Championhship picks and who will be going to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.