Michael Jordan is without question the greatest player of his generation and perhaps of any era past, present or future.
Jordan hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy six times and if it wasn’t for his brief exit from the NBA to become a professional baseball player, the Chicago Bulls would have more than likely added another two titles.
As a player, No. 23 was head and shoulders above the competition. Teams don’t come up with a defensive scheme called the “Jordan Rules” because you are scoring four points a game.
As good as Jordan was during his 15-year career, his time as a basketball executive with both the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats leave a lot to be desired. Jordan’s best move as an executive was when he talked himself out of retirement and joined the Wizards for two seasons.
Other than that decision, Jordan has fired up more airballs than Ben Wallace at the free-throw line. Just look at some of the draft picks Jordan has sent up to commissioner David Stern, Adam Morrison, Brandan Wright, Jared Dudley and Alexis Ajinca. Stern had to wonder if his good buddy Jordan was trying to punk him on national television.
Unfortunately for all the Bobcats fans, he wasn’t.
And it seems as if Jordan is about to add another errant shot to his list with the hiring of Mike Dunlap as the Bobcats’ next coach.
When I first saw the reports of Dunlap selection, I thought Jordan went with former NBA coach Mike Dunleavy. He didn’t. Jordan went with the assistant coach at St. John’s, who didn’t make the cut a week ago when the list of candidates was trimmed to three.
After former Utah coach Jerry Sloan took himself out of the running, it seemed the job was coming down to Brian Shaw and Quin Snyder. Shaw, who is an assistant with the Indiana Pacers, appeared to be the top pick. A 14-year veteran in the NBA, Shaw was in the running for the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching job following Phil Jackson’s retirement. The Lakers went with Mike Brown.
While Shaw was seen as a solid young candidate, Snyder was a wild-card in the process. The former Duke standout had a rocky exit at Missouri before landing as head coach with the Austin Toros of the NBADL. After spending a year with the Philadelphia 76ers in player development, Snyder was an assistant coach with Brown and the Lakers this season.
Shaw and Snyder were scheduled to meet with Jordan last week and a decision to come soon after those get-togethers. Something must have transpired in those meetings to make Jordan step back and put Dunlap’s name back to the table. The rumor is Shaw is in the running for the Orlando Magic vacancy, which would have made Snyder the Bobcats’ coach by default.
So instead of starting the process all over, Jordan cut the cord on Snyder’s candidacy and went with Dunlap as his choice. Dunlap’s only head coaching experience came at Metro State University, an NCAA Division II school in Denver. Dunlap’s only experience in the NBA came when he was assistant with the Denver Nuggets under UNC grad George Karl.
In today’s NBA, it’s not uncommon to name a head coach without any real experience leading a team. Take a peak at the NBA Finals to see how successful it can be. Miami’s Erik Spoelstra started as the team’s video coordinator before moving up the ranks. Across the court, Scott Brooks was never a head coach until taking over in Oklahoma City on an interim basis in 2008.
Today, the choice of Dunlap is a real head-scratcher, perhaps in five years Jordan’s choice will be hailed as the one that turned the NBA’s worst franchise into world champions.
But don’t bet on it.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org