Report: Michael Jordan playing prominent role for owners in CBA negotiations

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Michael Jordan’s most famous for this line to then Wizards’ owner Abe Pollin during the 1998 Collective Bargaining Agreement talks: “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team.”

Now Jordan is on the other side of the table, representing the owners and trying to increase their profit — and becoming quite a vocal leader in doing so, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

In multiple meetings with union officials and players in New York, Jordan is a serious voice in these ongoing discussions, league sources told The Vertical. Jordan’s appointment onto that powerful ownership committee has been secret until now, but his sudden standing strengthens what’s been a sometimes jagged journey into the ownership community….

After six years as a majority owner, Jordan has never been so relevant on that job. Beyond labor talks, the countdown to Charlotte hosting the 2017 NBA All-Star Game has started. Most of all: The Hornets are winning. The hiring of coach Steve Clifford has changed everything for the franchise, delivering the groundwork for a sustainable program and culture….

As a business model, Charlotte has grown, too. Privately, there are still agents and players who believe that Charlotte needlessly cuts expenses in ways that are below NBA norms, although most admit that the organization has gotten better in that regard. Charlotte has invested in purchasing its own NBA Development League affiliate in Greensboro, N.C., another way that Jordan has shown a willingness to spend money on the long-term growth of his franchise.

Michael Jordan the owner’s career arc has mimicked that of Michael Jordan the player — it took him a while to learn how to do things right and to win, but he is figuring it out. Certainly he came in as a better player than he did an owner, but it took Jordan years (and getting thumped in the playoffs by the Bad Boy Pistons three years in a row) to figure out how to become the guy now mythologized into some kind of unassailable legend as a player. As an owner he certainly had a rough start, but he’s learned and improved year after year.

As Wojnarowski notes, it’s no accident Commissioner Adam Silver and the other owners want him in the middle of the negotiations. The players’ union has loaded up on star power at the top — Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony — and so the owners countered with their own, bigger star. Plus, Jordan gives the small and middle market owners a more prominent seat at the table.

The deadline for either the players or owners to declare they will opt out in the summer of 2017 is this December. The fact that they are meeting now — and have broken out into smaller committees to deal with specific issues — is a good sign for those of us hoping to avoid the 2017 lockout. Another good sign is that there are few leaks coming out of those talks. Nobody has decided they need to try to take their case to the public. Yet.

I would be pleasantly surprised if an extension is reached and there is no drama about one side opting out come December, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Someone will opt out (likely the players). But that just starts a clock; the two sides would still have more than six months to hammer out a deal to avoid any kind of lockout — and longer to avoid losing regular season games. Count me in the optimistic

Count me in the optimistic camp that we don’t have a lockout that costs us games in 2017. However, I hate to underestimate the undermining impacts of human greed.