Retired NBA star Michael Jordan put on a basketball uniform and
this afternoon with the Charlotte Bobcats, the team he
. The Charlotte Bobcats are an NBA team, of sorts; they are an expansion replacement for an expansion team that left
, because people in North Carolina prefer watching basketball when
are playing it.
No one is interested in anything the the Charlotte Bobcats do at all. The most famous and accomplished player in Charlotte Bobcats history is
, who one year averaged almost 20 points per game. The second most famous Bobcats player was probably
, who was only famous because he had been a very good player in college.
Michael Jordan's ownership of the team was conceived in part as a way of connecting North Carolina's stillborn professional basketball tradition to its flourishing college basketball tradition, because a very long time ago, Jordan was a star player for the University of North Carolina. That didn't really work. Now Jordan is shortening the string of associations by going ahead and participating in basketball practice:
"He's Mike. He's been kicking our [butts]. He still has it," forward Gerald Wallace said. "He doesn't have this quickness, but he can score, he's a shooter. The last thing to ever go is your jump shot and he has that."
The last time Jordan moved from an NBA front office to the basketball court was in 2001, when after three years of retirement, he suited up for the Washington Wizards. His
was marked by
, bitterness, injury, and
, and ended with him being fired by the team's owner.
Scrimmaging with the Bobcats' third team reportedly left the soon-to-be-48-year-old Jordan with "ice bags strapped to both knees." In the ongoing awkwardness of his retirement, Jordan may yet transform himself (voluntarily or not) from a domineering basketball player-corporation into something more lovable, or sympathetic, or pathetic.
But the chances of his making a competitive comeback—even a stunt one, as a basketball
—seem low. Jordan escaped Washington less than six hundredths of a point
as the NBA's all-time per-game scoring leader. Three more bad games, and he'd slide into second place.
Still, the idea of Jordan touching the basketball, even as an erastz Bobcat, is the most interesting thing that has ever happened to the Charlotte Bobcats, and is possibly the most interesting thing that ever will happen to them.