Here is the thing that's sometimes hard to grasp when games are being canceled and no end is in sight: everybody wants the lockout to end. No one is actively being greedy or selfish just because they hate you and don't want you to watch basketball. Both sides have demands and one side or both are going to have to give in on each demand before the league comes back. Which is to say, the negotiation process is long and painful and isn't to be solved by "talking some sense" into the sides.
So it's kind of a reach for Marc Spears to call out Michael Jordan for not getting involved in CBA talks.
Jordan's background in the league is as diverse as anyone's: He's gone from star player to general manager to owner. He played (and worked) in big markets in Chicago and Washington, and is now trying to make the small-market Bobcats relevant in Charlotte. He entered the league making $630,000 as a rookie and earned as much as $33 million for a single season. He's the only African-American majority owner in a league predominantly made up of African-Americans.
Most of the league's players still admire or respect Jordan. And even those that don't trust him as an owner would at least listen to what he has to say.
Why? Because he was a player? He's not anymore. Because he's played alongside some of these guys and might even be their friends? That's awkward for him and probably a very big reason he's not more involved. Also the fact that he hasn't been doing this very long, doesn't know what life was like under older CBAs, and has more to fear from alienating David Stern and his fellow owners than he does from separating himself from the players. "Republicans buy sneakers too," Jordan famously said. As someone's who's still a paragon of the game despite being by all accounts a huge asshole, he knows better than anyone it's best to keep out of messes like this.
What precisely is Jordan supposed to do? The players won't cave because a former player asks them to. This is not the NFL, where just three powerful owners dictate the bargaining position, so he's not going to affect much change on his own side. Spears doesn't offer any concrete ideas beyond Jordan's "voice of reason [cutting] through all the rhetoric."
It's pointed out that Jordan, during the last lockout, told Wizards owner Abe Pollin that he should sell the team if he couldn't afford to compete.
Jordan's words to Pollin now sound ironic, given that he and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl have lobbied other owners for increased revenue sharing to protect small-market franchises.
Spears wants this to be a gotcha moment, but it's not. It's not even hypocrisy. Back then Jordan was a player, and he wanted more money for players. Now he's an owner and he wants more money for owners. That's not hard to understand and it shouldn't be hard to accept. Everyone's working from self-interest. If you as a fan just want the lockout to end and you don't care what percentage of revenue gets split, then you're acting from self-interest. It's okay! That's how things get done.
I get Spears's pain. We all want basketball back. But saying that because Michael Jordan "has never been afraid of taking the big shot," so "the NBA once again needs its greatest player to come through in the clutch?" That's not constructive or realistic. That's frustration over not having any news to report, and a childlike optimism that Michael Jordan really is a transcendant hero instead of just one of 30 rich men who own basketball teams.
In time of need, Jordan silent in labor talks [Yahoo Sports]