CHARLOTTE—Back in the 2001 NBA Draft, things were going all good for the Washington Wizards. And it was all hype for them as they held the number one pick and had the biggest name in basketball: Michael Jordan. As head of basketball operations, it was up to Jordan to decide who Washington should draft.
A brief workout was held and at the end, MJ had to decide between two high-school prodigies: Tyson Chandler and Kwame Brown. So, hence, the Wizards held a one-on-one game between the two. At the end, the result was easy: Washington had to pick Kwame. Brown destroyed Chandler in the one-on-one, and it was official: The Wizards would draft Kwame Brown as the first pick of the 2001 NBA Draft.
This decision would not only turn out to be Jordan's first basketball decision as a non-player, but also his first mistake. And it was a huge, risky, and very costly mistake. At the end, the Wizards learned that they passed on players like Chandler, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, and many others. Jordan couldn't make that mistake again.
Now go seven years later: Michael Jordan is back at being the big-shot guy of being head of a team. This time, it was the Charlotte Bobcats. Since Jordan joined the team a few years ago, the Bobcats have slightly increased in wins each year. And the 2009-10 season was the first team they made the playoffs, and it showed a bright future with them with Jordan also now as owner of the team.
But he made a move that shocked some fans. After a decent off-season, news was announced just a couple of days ago that the Bobcats have signed free-agent center Kwame Brown to a contract. The 28-year-old Brown is now in Charlotte, which is his fifth team in his nine-year career. He started out with Washington, and we know how bad that turned out. Then he moved on to play a few seasons with the Lakers, eventually getting trades to the Memphis Grizzlies and then getting cut. Then he played two seasons with the Pistons and now he is here with Charlotte.
Many wouldn't even think Jordan would make such a decision to sign a player that could have ruined his chances of owning a team or being a general manger, etc. Brown's best season was 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. That is not what you would want to expect as a number one overall draft pick's best season, obviously. Brown struggled with Jordan in his years with Washington.
Read When Nothing Else Matters by Michael Leahy and you know what I am talking about. Brown would always cry during practices and was always put under pressure a lot. Jordan would put him down many times and sometimes he would go as far to calling him the term of the word, "faggot." But Brown wants to put up with Jordan again, according to his agent in Mark Bartelstein.
"He really wanted to take the challenge of playing again for Michael and playing for a top coach like Larry Brown," Bartelstein said. "I think it says a lot about Kwame that he wanted to go to Charlotte. The last few years have been difficult for him, but I think he's really excited to go there and try to create a new chapter in his career. He wants this opportunity to go back and prove something."
But Brown will definitely help the Bobcats at the center position. Brown wants to change himself and be what he was expected to be with Jordan. He has a lot of time left to turn around his career. It may sound crazy, but hey, anything is possible.
"Michael was very much a part of this," Bartelstein said of Jordan. "He wanted this to happen and he wanted to give Kwame another opportunity.
"There's been so much written about the fact that this was Michael's first pick [as an executive] and so much criticism directed at both of them when it didn't work out. When that happens you can do one of two things. You can run from all that, or you can use it as motivation. What better way to try to turn your career around than to go back to where it all started?
"There were a lot of easier places Kwame could have gone, a lot of safer places. I think this says a lot about his competitive instinct and fire that he wanted to take on this challenge."
So Jordan and Brown re-unite. I really think Jordan and Charlotte can help make adjustments to Kwame's basketball skills. He can really improve and resurrect his career. Jordan is giving him a second chance for a shot at greatness. A shot at changing himself. No doubt Kwame is going to take full advantage of this and he is going to receive a lot of playing time.
All the negativity gone towards him. All the pain, the suffering. The hating.
He can change it all.
And show what he was thought out to be.