Real Life Logic: How To Run An NBA Franchise Into The Ground

This article discusses the meltdown that happened after Larry Brown was fired as coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. He blames Michael Jordan for surrounding himself with yes-men (which, of course, Jordan denies). Read on to see my take!

So first things first. It’s one thing to be bad – it’s completely another to be historically bad. And the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats, assuming they lose their last game against the New York Knicks, are going to be the worst team in the history of the NBA. That’s not a very good thing for Michael Jordan to put on his resume. Larry Brown takes him to task here for surrounding himself with yes-men:

“You know I love the guy, think he’s brilliant, but he’s around people who don’t have a clue. And they won’t challenge him. And the more you challenge him, the more you get from him.”

Jordan responds:

“It’s absolutely wrong that I don’t want guys to challenge me. And the people who say that aren’t in the room,” Jordan told the Charlotte Observer.

Unfortunately for His Airness, his desire for people to challenge him has nothing to do with whether they actually will. I want people to deliver me ice cream sandwiches every hour, on the hour. That doesn’t mean they will (but they should). If the argument stopped here, it would be completely laughable. But then he tries to redeem himself, continuing:

“The idea that people can’t do that is just wrong. Curtis (Polk, team vice chairman) has worked with me for over 20 years and he’s never had a problem telling me, ‘no.’ Rod (Higgins, president of basketball operations) has no problem telling me no. Fred (Whitfield, team president) has no problem telling me ‘no.’ And Rich (Cho, the team’s general manager) is about as direct and candid a person as you’ll ever meet.”

So, we learn that four people are both capable of and willing to say no to Michael Jordan. But, it turns out that the capacity to say no (CSN) and the willingness to say no (WSN) are both just necessary conditions for actually challenging Michael Jordan (CMJ). Symbolically:

CMJ -> CSN and WSN

MJ is affirming a necessary condition, which tells us absolutely nothing about the sufficient condition. Or, put in plain english, just because you are capable of and willing to say no to Michael Jordan doesn’t mean you will actually do it. The question Michael Jordan asks himself shouldn’t be whether people are capable or willing to say no to him – rather, it should be whether they’ve ever ACTUALLY stood up to him on anything important. Was everyone on board when they got nothing back for Raymond Felton or Tyson Chandler? How about when they got rid of Gerald Wallace? And when they picked up notorious offensive black hole Corey Maggette? Perhaps when they drafted Adam Morrison? Being capable of and willing to say no means squat if you won’t actually do it on any occasion that matters.

It is still entirely possible that Larry Brown is completely full of it. After all, like Michael said, Larry Brown wasn’t “in the room” (why you wouldn’t at least loop your head coach into basketball decisions, I have no idea). But even if that’s true, sometimes it takes an outside perspective for you to see what’s obvious to everyone else. And, more to the point, if your staff of people makes decisions like Charlotte’s does, whether or not they are capable of, willing to, or will actually challenge you is actually completely irrelevant; no amount of challenging will redeem the kind of decisions that have been made in Charlotte recently.

What’s your take?

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