CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan's No. 23 has long been synonymous with greatness. Now that number has a completely different meaning for him.
As Jordan watched from his luxury box, his Charlotte Bobcats lost their 23rd consecutive game Thursday night 104-84 to the New York Knicks and finished the shrunken season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history (.106). That means the man recognized globally as the greatest basketball player ever is the not-so-proud owner of the worst NBA team ever.
A spectacular resume that includes six NBA championships and five league MVP awards would also include one very forgettable season for the record book.
It had been 39 years since an NBA team finished with a worse winning percentage than the Bobcats. In a full season, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers finished 9-73 (.110).
In this lockout-shortened regular season, the Bobcats finished a woeful 7-59 — and they are every bit as bad as the numbers indicate.
They were last in league scoring and shooting percentage. They lost 22 games by 20 points or more. And it's hard to decide what was worse, their offense or their defense.
This year's Bobcats were everything Jordan wasn't as a player — unproductive, uncompetitive and unwatchable.
Jordan didn't talk with the media after the game, but guard Gerald Henderson called the season "unacceptable."
"This doesn't sit very well with me," Henderson said Thursday night. "These last 10 games, we've really tried to get after it, compete and not get that record. It just didn't happen for us. We just didn't have enough. We couldn't come up with the plays.
"When you look back at it and see we lost 59 games, you always think 'We could've won one more.'"
Jordan told the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday that he knew this was going to be a trying year, but didn't expect it would turn out this bad.
"But did we want to chase the most pingpong balls (in the May 30 draft lottery)? No way," Jordan told the newspaper. "Ever since I've owned the team I think we've made some very positive moves on the business side. We had to make a difficult decision to turn over the talent. This year the talent we had didn't respond, but that doesn't cause me to turn my back on the plan."
While Jordan was sticking to his plan, the Bobcats were painful to watch.
No one on the roster comes close to having Jordan's charisma — not to mention his ability to dominate. They lack a face for the franchise, at least on the court.
And all that's on Jordan.
His reputation as an executive continues to take hit after hit, just the way he used to make game-winning shot after shot.
Jordan's questionable decision-making has landed the Hall of Famer at the center of a debate about which former star turned NBA executive has done the worst job.
Jordan spent a season-and-a-half in Washington as team president and later as a part-time player. And while the Wizards were attractive at the box office, they were horrible as a team and owner Abe Pollin ultimately fired Jordan.
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