(The NBA lock out is winding down, and Piers Morgan interviews two basketball legends tonight, 9pmET/PT: Shaquille O'Neal and Magic Johnson. "Piers Morgan Tonight" intern Andrea Apuy highlights one storyline from the lockout this year.)
On October 28th 1998, at the height of the 1998 NBA lockout, Michael Jordan confronted Wizards franchise owner Abe Pollin. Jordan said to Pollin in front of a full meeting of owners and players, “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team.” Jordan’s reprimand reverberated through the sports media outlets and implanted in the minds of his peers including Indiana Pacers legend and TNT sports analyst Reggie Miller. Miller referenced the event during a roundtable discussion about the current NBA lockout, which has just come to an end.
Recalling the reaction of the other players at the meeting Miller remembered, “all hell broke out loose and all of us players was like 'that’s our best player, maybe ever, standing up for us.'"
Jordan’s influence would be felt again when he announced his 2nd retirement amidst the tail-end of the lockout. Average attendance dropped per game in Jordan’s absence and the NBA saw television ratings drop for three consecutive seasons.
Eleven years later, Jordan found himself on the other side of yet another NBA lockout as the franchise owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. He recently gained headlines for establishing himself as one of the “hard-line” owners, insisting that the basketball-related income (BRI) split between the players and the owners be reduced from 57% to 47%. The reaction from his peers and his fans are mixed. Miller finds Jordan’s stance as selfishly having a “horse in the race”, cutting the players earnings while gleaning continued earnings from the athletes wearing “Brand Jordan.” Meanwhile, fellow TNT sports analyst and retired All-Star MVP Charles Barkley does not fault Jordan for “doing what’s best for his business”.
In truth, Jordan has the most to gain financially from the adjusted BRI. He lost over 20 million in operating income since purchasing the franchise in 2010. The adjustment will considerably cut his losses in the upcoming season. In addition, the continued lockout is potentially a cost savings for Jordan and his underperforming team.
Watch what Shaq and Magic have to say about the lockout – and other sports and news topics – tonight at 9pmET/PT.