Short on players for practice, the Charlotte Bobcats found an extra body in the front office: Michael Jordan.
The Hall of Famer and Bobcats owner suited up for Thursday’s workout, participating in a full-court scrimmage and showing a few of the old moves that helped make him a six-time NBA champion.
“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.”
Jordan, who turns 48 next week, has been spending more time at practices and shootarounds, getting on the floor and doing some teaching. Thursday’s practice was his most involved yet.
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“He’s holding these guys accountable and it’s great. I love him out here,” coach Paul Silas said. “He’s teaching them how to protect the basketball, how to play hard on defense, how to talk. It’s a good thing.
“The guys work a little bit harder when he’s out here and rightly so because he’s working hard. You’re not going to let him do a job on you if you’ve got any pride.”
Jordan, who didn’t speak to reporters, was on the floor in an orange jersey. But Wallace said that didn’t serve the purpose of the red “no contact” jerseys quarterbacks wear in football practice.
It meant only that Jordan was on the third team.
“We don’t treat him like no quarterback out here,” Wallace said. “We hit him.”
Jordan became a part owner of the Bobcats with the final say on personnel moves in 2006 before buying the team outright last year. After making the playoffs for the first time last spring, Charlotte started 9-19 this season, leading Jordan to fire coach Larry Brown.
The Bobcats (22-30) have climbed back into playoff contention under Silas, although Wednesday’s loss at Indiana left them a game behind the Pacers for the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.
Charlotte has been talking to teams about possible trades to improve the roster, but that won’t include another Jordan comeback.
Jordan was slumped in a chair with ice bags strapped to both knees at the end of the workout.
“He can still shoot the basketball unbelievable and he can move well. But at his age, he couldn’t do it for a long period of time,” Silas said, smiling. “But short period of time, he can get it done, yeah.”