Everyone seems to have an opinion on the NBA lockout.
Owners are clamoring that the need more money and the business model is broken. Players think the system is fine, and that the owners need to practice self-control with giving out large contracts.
Media members go on radio shows and tweet their opinions about why the owners and players can’t come to a deal. Fans have picked sides on whether the players, the owners, or both are to blame for this mess.
There’s been one person surprisingly absent in the discussion of the lockout: Michael Jordan.
The game’s best player hasn’t been in many of the labor talks or done interviews voicing his opinion on the lockout. Of all people, Jordan probably would have the best perspective, considering he’s been a superstar player, and now owner of a team.
Jordan’s name also resonates with every person affiliated with the NBA. At this point, he’s unarguably the best player ever, he’s made millions as a player and now owns a team. He’s literally the perfect person to have an opinion on the labor dispute.
But this tends to be Jordan’s style. When Jordan was a player, many African-Americans questioned aloud why he wasn’t more vocal on some of the plights of black Americans. When he famously didn’t get involved with aiding a civil rights leader for a Senate seat in North Carolina when he was a player, he merely offered, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
Jordan doesn’t stir the pot. When he briefly stepped out of character last month to speak to an Australian newspaper about the lockout, the NBA fined him $100,000, which amounts to a slap on the wrist for him.
Jordan said: “”I know the owners are not going to move off what we think is very necessary to put a deal in place that allows us to co-exist as partners. We need a lot of financial support throughout the league as well as revenue-sharing to keep this business afloat.’‘This is the type of insight that we need from the league’s most recognizable player ever. Tomorrow’s a big day for the NBA, as the players and owners will meet with a federal mediator. The Christmas day games – an NBA staple – are in jeopardy if they can’t get a deal done tomorrow.
Jordan needs to be at the meeting, and he needs to offer his opinion. He’s the best person to speak to both the problems the owners are facing, and why the player’s don’t want to give back too much.
A major reason why Jordan may not be getting involved is the tremendous sponsorships he still has even though he’s been retired for over a decade. His Jordan brand also employs numerous superstar players, so from a business perspective, he may not want to upset some of his top earners.
But we’ve hit a code red of sorts for the NBA. The league has already canceled games, and there’s real concern whether the NBA will play a season at all. Words like “contraction” have been thrown around in labor talks, which would affect small-market teams…just like Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats.
It’s time for the greatest of all time to speak up. This is not the time to be politically correct and silent. Jordan needs to give his opinion and help both sides understand what it’s like in the other’s shoes.
Jordan has made millions from the NBA, and he’s now responsible for the livelihood of players. He needs to step up, speak up, and help the NBA get a deal done.
He holds tremendous influence. It’s time for him to use it.