The Charlotte Hornets are in a free fall, and that has their owner, Michael Jordan, intervening to get the team back on track.
Prior to Saturday's clash with the Los Angeles Lakers, Jordan held a meeting with the players to share his insights on the squad's struggles, and gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding the team's poor start.
“It wasn’t a talking-to,” Hornets forward Marvin Williams told the Observer. “He wanted to hear what our thoughts were, where we wanted to be. He gave his input on what he’s seen, what he would like to see going forward.
“It was very constructive, very appreciative and very much needed.”
The Hornets had dropped six of seven contests heading into that game, and the meeting didn't yield immediate results, as Charlotte fell 110-99 to the Lakers to drop its record to a dismal 9-16 on the season. Jordan rarely intervenes formally with his players, as it's just the first time in nearly two years MJ has done so.
“People ask me the question all the time, ‘What’s it like to play for MJ?’ They think it would be so tough, because of how great he was," Williams added. "But for us, it’s so beneficial. He understands the grind of an NBA season, he understands the stretches when you’re losing and when you win.
“He very much lets coach be coach and the players be players. Today he just came in and told us what he’s been seeing.”
Williams didn't share MJ's specific concerns, but it's clear to see what some of the issues are after examining the team's stats. Offensively, Charlotte ranks towards the back of the pack in several categories: points per game (16th), field-goal percentage (28th), 3-point percentage (25th) and free-throw percentage (28th). Point guard Kemba Walker has been carrying the offensive load for the Hornets, averaging 22.6 points and six assists, but the team lacks a true second scoring option. Veteran center Dwight Howard has been a double-double threat since being acquired from the Atlanta Hawks in the offseason, but his injury woes are always a concern as the miles continue to pile up on his legs.
Luckily for the Hornets, no team is running away early with the Southeast Division title, and there's still plenty of time to turn things around. Charlotte sits only 4 1/2 games back of the division-leading Washington Wizards entering play Sunday, but if it continues on its current downward trajectory, Jordan could be forced to blow up the team.
Jordan bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006, becoming the team's second-largest shareholder behind majority owner Robert L. Johnson. He then became the majority owner of the franchise in March of 2010.