State of the Hornets after MJ’s Arrival

The game of basketball has a rich history in the state of North Carolina, with the sport being deeply embedded in the roots of its peoples’ culture. The love of the sport can be seen on all levels of the basketball pyramid—from high school, to college ball, and on up to the NBA. It is said that North Carolinians bleed their teams’ colors and pledge their allegiance to them from the day they are born, forming a life lasting bond.

The team hasn’t been that hot lately.  They have struggled the last few seasons.  This year Vegas doesn’t think much of them again either.  The Hornets are 150/1 to win it all.  That’s one of the worst odds in the entire NBA.

The embodiment of this basketball-crazed fervor is none other than the game’s GOAT (Greatest of All Time): Michael Jordan. Jordan played high school basketball in Wilmington, North Carolina, and he played during his college years at the esteemed University of North Carolina. However, he really made his mark on the sport once he got to the NBA, having many great seasons, incredible games, and powerful dunks.

Jordan eventually took the torch that was handed to him by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson (whose heated rivalry in the 80’s put the sport on the map) and assumed his role as the face of the NBA. During Jordan’s reign, his name and brand raised the popularity of the NBA around the world. By the time he was done, Jordan’s list of accomplishments and records could fill up an entire book.

Despite the success of its prodigal son, North Carolina has not had much in the way of success at the professional level since the inception of its local team—The Charlotte Hornets—
in 1988. Unfortunately, the team was resigned to early exits from the NBA playoffs, or missing the postseason altogether. Eventually, due to a falling out between the owner and the city of Charlotte, the team was relocated to New Orleans in 2002, breaking the hearts of North Carolinians.

Soon after, realizing that Charlotte was still a hotbed for the sport, the NBA sought to make amends with the city and brought professional basketball back to North Carolina. This time around, the team was under different ownership and had a new name: The Charlotte Bobcats.

Beginning play in 2004, this iteration of the team sadly did not give their fan base much to cheer for at first, finishing at the bottom of the league’s standings after the first 2 years.

However, a glimmer of hope came to the good people of Charlotte in 2006. This beacon of light was none other than North Carolina’s golden child: Michael Jordan. He returned to North Carolina basketball during its darkest time, buying a minority stake in the team and being named head of basketball operations.

Relying on his basketball acumen, as head of basketball operations Michael Jordan immediately sought out to reverse the misfortune plaguing the team for decades. He implemented an organizational restructure of the team, focused mostly on hiring new personnel in the front office and competent coaches. His first major moves were firing coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff and hiring Rod Higgins and Sam Vincent to replace him, respectively.

Jordan’s first season as head of basketball operations didn’t go as well as planned and the Bobcats finished with a dismal 22-50 win/loss record. Rumors were going around about players clashing with the coach, so Vincent was fired.

The man brought in to replace him was legendary coach Larry Brown. Brown ended his first season as head coach with a marked improvement and the Bobcats narrowly missed out on a playoff berth.

Next season, due to acquisitions of key players and the stability offered by coach Larry Brown, the Bobcats further improved as a team and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. It was also during this season that Jordan bought a majority stake in the team and became the first former NBA player to become a majority owner of a franchise.

Thereafter, the Bobcats sputtered to 9-19 start and Jordan announced the Larry Brown had resigned as head coach, with Paul Silas hired to replace him the same day. However, this was not enough to reignite the fire from the previous season and the Bobcats failed to make the playoffs yet again.

In the offseason, Jordan removed himself from his position as head of basketball operations and promoted general manager Rod Higgins to replace him. The next couple of years the Bobcats failed to make the playoffs but were set on acquiring promising young talent.

This strategy finally came to fruition during the 2013 season, as the Bobcats qualified for the playoffs for the second time in their history. Coincidentally, this was also the final year the team used the Bobcats as their name. In the offseason, Jordan announced that the team applied for a name change, reverting to the original name of the franchise: The Hornets.

Trying to build off the previous year and the reinvigoration of the fan base due the name change, the Hornets aimed to qualify for the playoffs for the second year in a row, ultimately falling short.


Ranking Jordan’s Best Seasons

The NBA’s best players have left an important legacy for fans. Each year, teams take to the court to prove their skill for crowds. Michael Jordan enjoyed outstanding success across his entire career. He had his ups and downs, but kept the Chicago Bulls in the playoff hunt each year. A look back will reveal some of his greatest highlights. Fans will be impressed by his stats and clutch performance. Of course, his championships with the Chicago Bulls speak for themselves. But Jordan left an impression on the league as well. Rival players undoubtedly remember some of the legendary games against his team.  Too bad he hasn’t seen many of these as owner of the Hornets.

5. Chicago Bulls 85′-86′

After winning Rookie of the Year, Jordan impressed many in the NBA. During his 85′-86′ season the Bulls would improve. Michael himself would average 22.7 ppg and demonstrate his prowess. Unfortunately for the team, Jordan broke his foot midway through the year. That left the Bulls with a limited roster and difficult opponents. Chicago ended with a 30-52 record and barely in the playoffs. But Jordan’s impact could already be felt early in his career. Some of his best plays were on full display as he matured. The Bulls seemed to always lose against the Celtics, but their year would come.  Probably his best year for dunking though.

4. Chicago Bulls 97′-98′

In his last season with the Bulls, Jordan had an opportunity to cement his legacy. The team had already won 5 championships and vied for its 6th trophy. During the regular season, Jordan would average 28.7 ppg against other teams. That also helped him win a 6th MVP trophy as an individual award. Jordan faced down opponents like Byron Russell and still managed to score big. During the NBA Finals against the Jazz, Jordan scored an impressive 54 points in one game, one of his best games. That resulted in the Bulls’ sixth title and its second three-peat.

3. Chicago Bulls 92′-93′

That year, Jordan would lead Chicago to yet another NBA title. But it wouldn’t be easy and fans were on edge against their opponents. In the regular season, Jordan average a stunning 32.6 ppg. He would also grab down 6.7 rebounds each contest. Jordan also improved as the facilitator, distributing 5.5 assists per game. During the playoffs, he became known for big plays and big games. A 64 point performance helped the Bulls beat a young Magic team. A game winning shot also elevated the Bulls over a rival Cavaliers squad.

2. Chicago Bulls 95′-96′

Jordan spent a couple years away from the team mid-career. But a return to the Bulls would give fans hope for another title season. Jordan returned to true form by averaging 30.4 ppg and keeping his role as a leader. The Bulls would set a record for number of wins during the regular season. Jordan himself would record yet another MVP and even a Finals MVP award. The Bulls would face the Sonics for that year’s NBA Finals. Michael would triumph over his opponents and win one more title on Father’s Day.

1. Chicago Bulls 90′-91′

Jordan was best known for his individuality out on the court. During the 90′-91′ season, he was awarded with his second MVP. His stats showcase his all-around greatness as a player. He averaged 31.5 ppg against his opponents, which set the bar for his position. Jordan also contributed 6 rpg and defended well during most games. That gave the Bulls an advantage when it came to defense. Extra possessions and restricted scoring often frustrated their opponents. That season also marked a lasting legacy for Jordan as he entered the prime of his career.

Michael Jordan’s Best Games

Where do we start with Michael Jordan? Still to this day arguably the greatest NBA player to ever play on the court in history of basketball. I’ll just name a “few” of his accomplishments for you to ponder about: five-time NBA MVP, six-time NBA finals MVP, ten-time ALL-NBA first team, nine-time NBA All-Defensive first team, NBA defensive player of the year, NBA rookie of the year, NBA all-rookie team, three-time ALL-Star MVP, 11 NBA All-Star appearances, member of six NBA championship teams, NBA 50th Anniversary ALL-Time team, 2 time NBA slam dunk contest champion, and the list literally goes on.  What’s missing is some success as the Charlotte owner.

Know that you know a few highlights of Jordan’s outstanding, incredible career. Let’s take a look at some of his Best Games.

This list is extremely controversial and could be in a number of different orders in many eyes, this is simply my list of his Best Games.

1) 1986 Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 – 63 Points

Still to this day, this game holds the NBA record for most points scored in a playoff game. In double overtime Jordan scored 63 points against the almighty Boston Celtics. The irony of the Celtics is the fact that they are arguably the greatest NBA team of all time and he had several incredible dunks against them.

Jordan had 63 points, five rebounds, six assist, three steals, and two blocks. Those are incredible numbers, but the team he did it against to beat is the most amazing part. The Celtics were 67-15 with a 40-1 home record. This was the team that consisted of: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton. A team ranked first in Defensive Rating and third in Offensive Rating.

2) 1998 NBA Finals Game 6 – “The Last Shot”

This could easily be most people’s “Number 1 Game”. I think beating that Historically great Celtic’s team puts it above this still. Anyways, Jordan finished this game with 45 points, 16 in the fourth quarter, with only one rebound and one assist. He shot 42.9 percent from the floor that night.

One of the tightest, most competitive finishes in Finals History. John Stockton hit a three-point shot to break the tie and gave the Jazz a three-point lead with just 41.9 seconds remaining. Jordan scored within 4 seconds to cut the lead to one. The Jazz had a chance to hold the ball, kill some time, and score to potentially end the game. Jordan is on the floor though, so anything is possible. Jordan ends up stealing the ball from Malone’s hands and scores “The Final Shot” with 5.2 seconds remaining… The Jazz misses the final shot and the Bull’s are once again NBA Champions. It’s no surprise this was one of this best seasons.

3) 1997 NBA Finals Game 5 – “The Flu Game”

Here we are again, another one of Jordan’s arguably best performances ever. Jordan had been diagnosed with a stomach virus prior to the game. You could literally see how sick and fatigued he was, but this wasn’t going to stop him, it seemed like nothing could actually stop him…

The Jazz had an early 16 point lead heading into the second quarter. Of course, Jordan steps up in the second and scores 17 points to cut the lead to four. It was a back and forth game. Jordan looking like he wasn’t going to make it on and off throughout the game. A very competitive game, tied for most of the third and fourth quarter. Jordan buries a three point shot in the fourth to give them the lead, eventually leading to the victory. Jordan finished with 38 points on 48.1 percent shooting to go along with 7 rebounds, 5 assist, 3 steals, and 1 block in 44 minutes played, including 15 points in the fourth quarter and the game winner…

These are just a few of his historically great games. The Legend, Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan’s Best Dunks

Basketball has sure had its fair share of great players. Some more athletic than others. The best athletes are usually the best dunkers. Dominique Wilkins, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant were all great dunkers, but I believe the best dunker of all time was Michael Jordan. Here is a list of Jordan’s best dunks.

10. Over Moses Malone

Jordan had the ball at the top of the three point arch, he juked one defender and flew down the lane and dunked right over Moses Malone. Stunning move.

9. On Tree Rollins

This dunk was sweet. Jordan was electric again as he faked a pass to Charles Oakley who was wide open. That drew two defenders away. Jordan streaks down the lane and hammers a dunk right over the top of Tree Rollins. Rollins looked absolutely stunned.

8. Steal and slam vs. Knicks

Another Jordan classic. He steals the ball from the Knicks, races down the court and cradles the ball in one arm like a baby and windmills that ball right through the hoop. He started doing that in college at North Carolina.  Why I like this as one of his top games of his career.

7. Leaving the Sonics humbled

Yet another steal for Jordan who was such a great defensive player. The Bulls were up 5 points over the Sonics with 11 seconds left. He wanted to make a statement by stealing the ball running down the court and making a flashy dunk at the end of the game, humbling Seattle.

6. Big dog now little dog

This one was over Glenn Robinson, the Big Dog. Jordan gets the outlet pass after the defensive rebound, dribbles down the left side of the court, and when he gets past court, his tongue comes out. I know when this happens he is going the whole way. He goes straight down the middle of the land and dunks right over the Big Dog.

5. Poor Kelly Tripuka

Jordan, and I love this, takes the ball himself and likes to embarrass people. He had two open teammates on offense and like usual, took the ball himself down the land and did a poster-style dunk over poor Kelly Tripuka. It’s easy for Jordan to make people look silly.

4. Reverse jam

It’s hard to dunk on 7’7″ Manute Bol, so, what does Jordan do? He gets his team’s offensive rebound and instead of taking Bol on, goes baseline and goes under the rim for the reverse jam. Take that Manute!

3. Better than Dr. J

Jordan one-upped Dr. J in his version of taking off around the free throw line. Dr. J did it years earlier but was one foot in front of the line. Jordan mimicked the same dunk during a dunk contest, and he did it from behind the free throw line. Impressive.  Just capped off one of his greatest seasons.

2. In your face Patrick

Patrick Ewing was a great defensive player. Jordan was caught along the baseline and somehow got out. He was face to face with Ewing and both went up, even though Joran is 6’6″ and Ewing was 7′, Jordan got higher than Ewing and slammed the ball home.

1. Reverse double pump

In the dunk contest, Jordan wanted to make a statement. In one of his last attempts, Jordan started on the left side of the court dribble to the left side of the rim, and with his head as high as the rim, reverse double pumped and threw the ball down. He’s just the King.

Now all he needs is one of his players for the Hornets to be as good as he was.