Michael Jordan Works Out, Talks About Bobcats

December 18, 2007

Bobcats Learning Lessons From Jordan

Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan took the court with the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday for a brief workout with the team. While Jordan demonstratively laughed off the possibility of a comeback, he did take time after practice to talk with the media about a host of different things pertaining to the Bobcats. The following is a transcript of Jordan's meeting with the media:

(On his being involved in practice the last several days)
This was more or less for the morale of the players. The last couple of days it has been all about trying to get them to focus on the little things and to play as a team. They’ve been in a lot of games. The Orlando game was a great example, they came out and played great as one unit. In the second half it became a bunch of individuals, which in essence shows that when you play together as a unit you can beat some good solid teams. But as soon as you become individuals, you can’t do anything right. I also told them yesterday that on this team we have no All-Stars – none. That means everybody has to rely upon each other to be successful. Until we develop an All-Star that can take over a game, I think it’s very important for them to understand that they have to play as a unit. I think that’s the message that a lot of the guys got. As I said in the meetings yesterday and watching film, I utilized my experience on a team and in a structured situation to know that a lot of the little things, these guys are not doing. They need to focus on utilizing everybody’s talents. It’s starts with Raymond (Felton) and it starts with Jeff (McInnis), in terms that they are the leaders on the basketball court. They are the most integral part of our team right now because everybody goes with their leadership, from their aggressive defense to them setting up plays. Most of my conversation were with them, as well as with Gerald (Wallace), (Emeka) Okafor and Jason Richardson, because they’re leaders too, when you look at it, but everything starts with them (point guards) as well as with the coaching staff and the team in terms of understanding what their responsibilities are. It was a workshop this week because I felt like they needed it. They were getting at a point, where they just could not get over the hump. A lot of that is because of their own play, partly because of the way they go out and focus on some of the little things. It was good. Today wasn’t anything, except me getting exercise, so don’t take it out of context.

(On why he initially didn’t want to practice with the team)
Initially I said no, mainly because I felt like if you’re going to compete at this level you have an inner drive to be the best athlete. You definitely don’t need anybody else to motivate you. That’s all though predicated on the way I approached the situation as opposed to how some of these kids approach it. We have to see how they respond to this, this is just practice, we still have games to play to see how this all plays out. Don’t use this as an excuse, use it as a stepping-stone to go out and play. If you go out tomorrow and do the same thing, you can care less if I come here and hang out with you. But if you take what I said and my actions of being around and put it to good use, then it’s a tool we can revisit quite often, but if there are not results, don’t use it as an excuse.

(What made him decide to come to practice)
What we really made me (decide to come to practice), was because they were missing so many little things. You can see if they play with the right focus, they can do it. The Boston game was a great game, there was just one mistake at the end of the game. The Orlando game, which I saw the other night when I was here. I was nervous about, obviously because it’s the first national television game and you didn’t know how they were going to come out. They were nervous and they came out and relied upon each other and they played extremely well and had a nine-point lead. Once they got that comfort, they reverted back to old habits. “It’s a television game, this is where I can showcase my talents.” It became more an individual game and not using all the components within the team as they did in the first half. That’s when I made the point to say, “Let me see if I can look at the film with these guys and let them see what I see from my perspective and then relay it to them and see if they understand what I’m seeing.” Not in a derogatory way, but more or less in helpful way. I thought the game against Orlando, they could have stepped out and made a name for themselves. They did, but so quickly they reverted back to old habits in the second half. That proves to me that they have it, you just have to somehow get it out of them, so they focus on all 15 guys, as opposed to one guy here or one guy there being the focus. I think the last couple of days we had great conversations. We had a great dialogue between myself and every player on this team. I felt good about it, but now can they take it and use it tomorrow. It’s a tough opponent tomorrow. Utah’s struggling, but they are very solid in screen-and-rolls, which is one of our weaknesses. It’s going to test whether we comprehend what we were always discussing in the film session yesterday. I think they have it, but we’ll know tomorrow.

(On if he and the coaching staff are tough on Raymond Felton)
Not tough, just demanding. Raymond’s fourth year is coming up. By now we should start to see more consistency in his play, less turnovers, more leadership so that you don’t have periods where you come down and lose the ball with no shot on three straight plays On that fourth play you have to focus. What we used to do is have a designed play where we know we can get a good shot. He still struggles with that. He still takes it upon himself to say, “I can do it myself.” It’s not what we probably expect. There may be situations where he can do it, but you still need all 11 players. My comment, I don’t mean it as a derogatory sense, is that we don’t have any All-Stars on our team. We have a lot of guys who are on the verge, but those little things get you over the hump. Consistency gets you over the hump. It’s not what you think, but it’s what your productivity is over a consistent basis. I felt like I needed to say that so everybody understands and they can look and say, ‘You know, you’re right.’
None of these guys have been All-Stars. We have two guys who have been on winning teams D.A. (Derek Anderson) and now, Nazr (Mohammed). The rest of the guys are trying to establish themselves in terms of a winning situation. Let’s understand who we are so we can move from that and utilize each other as pieces of puzzle to paint a different picture. But if you have a different vision of the picture then we’re losing the battle already. So let’s get everybody on the same page.

(On if it’s important for the Bobcats to focus on getting the ball in the post)
Totally. We have a good post up guy in Mohammed, as you saw in the Atlanta game. He goes in and Raymond got a layup. He got everybody operating and moving without the ball. He’s able to find people. Okafor can do that but we have to get him the ball and allow him to be part of it – make him a threat. If we can’t penetrate the defense with our dribble, then penetrate with a pass. We have in certain situations been able to get good things once the ball goes in the middle. Now it’s not going to be every night, but at least you focus on it and put the pressure on the defense to react in some way and now the perimeter comes into play.
When you start individualizing the game, where everybody wants to be “the guy” then you’re going to have that lull in our success. Let’s focus on what has really been a strong point for us, which is getting the ball in the post. Granted you have Jason Richardson, who is probably shooting the best three-point shot, but we have yet to figure out how to get Matt Carroll operating. His strong play is coming off screens, extending the defense, keeping the spacing. If we have Matt Carroll out there trying to go one-on-one, we have problems. These are the conversations I made a point to have with the guys as well as the coaching staff from my perspective. Sam (Vincent) is totally saying the same thing but coming from me is resonates a little more and a little bit fast. How I look at the value of each player, is to evaluate the components of the team. It’s not about paying a guy $15 million because he averages 30 points, but you win 15 games. That to me doesn’t benefit the team. To me it’s about building with 12-13 solid players and you go out and win ball games and everybody consistently plays their role.

(On Nazr Mohammed)
I’ve played with Nazr (Mohammed) quite a bit. I’ve seen him play. He’s a consistent guy, a great locker room guy, a great veteran and he wasn’t getting much time in Detroit. We’ve been beating the wires trying to find someone consistent, someone of value, not too extreme where it hurts us long-term as far as financial planning with the cap. Nazr’s contract didn’t hurt us. We made a commitment with it, but it didn’t hurt us. If we feel like we have the right components to make it work, let’s do it. We feel like we’ve been doing that for the last couple of months, trying to find replacements for Sean (May) and Adam (Morrison), who are out for the whole year. We ask our young kids to do a lot. They’re learning at the same time so we can’t expect the consistency each and every game. I think Jared (Dudley) has given us a lot, a lot more than what we expected at this stage. For him to see more time, it’s only going to elevate his skills long term, but to ask to get immediate results, we had to go out and find someone.

(On what they are going to do with the open roster spot)
Nothing right now. We don’t want to just make a deal to make a deal because we have an empty space. If there is something out there that can add to this team and it’s economically worthwhile, we would look at it. We have the flexibility to add another player. I don’t see a need right now, but our options are always open which to me is most important thing with this organization is to keep your options open.

To see and hear more from Jordan's practice with the Bobcats tune into News 14 Carolina on Wednesday at 7 p.m. as the Bobcats take on the Utah Jazz.