Michael Jordan makes more money now than when he played

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It’s good to be Michael Jordan. Even if you do own the Bobcats.

Last year, Jordan made twice as much money as he did with his largest contract playing in the NBA, according to Forbes Magazine.

In the 1996-97 season, Jordan made $30.1 million, the season after that $33.1 million. (The Riensdorf and Kraus broke up the Bulls.) By the way, before those years Jordan’s highest salary was $4 million, so the Bulls made a lot of money off him before they had to pay up.

Now, well, it’s good to be the king.

We estimate that Jordan earned $60 million over the past year mainly through his endorsement deals with Nike, Gatorade, Hanes, Upper Deck, 2K Sports and Five Star Fragrances. He also owns five restaurants and a car dealership in North Carolina. His annual earnings are greater than any other sports figure save Tiger Woods who topped our world’s highest-paid athletes this year….

When it comes to Jordan’s annual earnings, Nike is his meal ticket and why his endorsement earnings are now higher than when he played. Jordan signed a five-year, $2.5 million pact with Nike in 1984 out of college. The Jordan Brand exploded and now has annual revenues of more than $1 billion with MJ getting a piece of the action. Athletes in the Jordan stable include Derek Jeter, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Denny Hamlin. The Jordan Brand’s market share of the U.S. basketball shoe market is 71% according to SportsOneSource.

Notice the Bobcats are not on that list of money makers.

Just so we’re clear, Jordan last played for the Bulls 13 years ago and last played for the Wizards eight years ago (but we really try to repress the memory of those years). Yet he has been able to remain above the fray, a political and largely out of trouble, which has helped keep his image clean and endorsement deals in tact.

Take notes on how that is done, LeBron.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.