November 15, 2014
The New York Knicks (2-8) and the Charlotte Hornets (4-5) will do battle three more times in the season. Both teams have an interesting tale, but it doesn’t come from their records or players. Well, not entirely.
Their tale began when Michael Jordan became principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). He bought a minority stake on June 15, 2006 and became the principal owner four years later. Jordan became the first African-American majority owner in the NBA. What a feeling for Jordan to not only own a team, but own his home state team in North Carolina!
Fast forward to eight months ago, where another prestigious name in basketball returned to where it started. Phil Jackson took the job as president of the Knicks. Jackson played for the Knicks his entire career and won two world titles with them in 1970 and 73.
So, what’s the hook here? What is the story that can make the Knicks and Hornets’ battles more significant? The answer is right in front of us: Jordan vs. Jackson!
These were the same two men that were responsible for defining a decade in basketball. Under Jackson’s tutelage, Jordan won six world titles with the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were unstoppable, winning their six championships on two separate three-peats with two very different rosters.
The first in 1991-93 featured Jordan with Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxson and Bill Cartwright as their starting five for the majority of their run. Their second in 1996-98 had Jordan & Pippen but also Luc Longley, Ron Harper and Dennis Rodman. The benches were also drastically different, but the strategies remained the same.
Jackson’s triangle helped Jordan and the Bulls navigate through their winning seasons. But like all things, it had to end sometime.
This brings us to the present. Jordan and Jackson are on enemy lines on a different court. Both are trying to make moves beneficial for their team, but time will tell if they pay off. The Knicks have the advantage in marquee value. Carmelo Anthony is still a big name in the NBA, and New York will still be front and center since it’s a huge metropolitan area.
The Hornets’ advantage is their playoff history. Despite being swept by the Heat this past postseason, they still made the playoffs unlike the Knicks.
The disadvantage comes from experience, but that might be more difficult to judge.
This is Jackson’s first time primarily in an executive role. He hasn’t really made any moves other than unloading talent with big contracts.
Jordan has more experience but has problems with making the right choices (see Kwame Brown). However, he did pick up Lance Stephenson. The small forward, who may be known more for blowing into LeBron James’ ear, is a hard worker at small forward and could be a superstar someday.
Regardless, it’s an intriguing matchup between the greatest player of his generation versus the greatest coach in NBA history. The Knicks are 1-0 with a 96-93 victory on November 2. Let’s see how the results play out at the end, as Jordan and Jackson will play the executive form of chess instead of physically playing basketball.
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