Michael Jordan leading group of Owners taking Hard Line in NBA Labor Negotiations

By Geoff Ratliff

Remember the days when Michael Jordan was easily the most underpaid NBA player ever? When he had to fight the Two Jerrys – Bulls Owner Reinsdorf and General Manager Krause – to get some fat career achievement back pay towards the end of his tenure in Chicago just to make up for some of his wildly below market contracts from early in his career? And remember how much antipathy he had towards Bulls management after he left because of their penny-pinching ways?

Well apparently Mr. Jordan learned a lot from those days, because according to this New York Times report, he is leading a faction of owners that are taking a hardline in the NBA labor negotiations, encouraging his colleagues not to budge from their offer to split Basketball Related Income (BRI) 50/50 with the players. As anyone who has been paying even a little bit of attention to the labor negotiations knows, this is, and always has been, the single biggest sticking point to finalizing a deal and getting the 2011-2012 NBA season underway.

While my initial reaction was to chalk this up to Jordan being the same selfish jerk that he has proven to be more and more the farther away he gets from his playing days, what it actually demonstrates is that he is using some sound business sense, fully understanding what it takes to be a successful owner in this league. While Jordan has made hundreds of millions of dollars through NBA salary and endorsement, he is relatively poor as in relation to other professional sports owners. In addition, as a player who had to fight for every dollar of salary he ever made, even while he was clearly blazing a trail to becoming the best player to ever put on an NBA uniform, it has to appall him to see the way that many current players simply steal money. Jordan, more than any other league owner, has not only a huge financial stake in making sure that his side gets the best deal possible, but his pride and ego, which we all know are really important to him, will not allow him to continue operating under a system that allows scrubs like Eddy Curry and Eric Dampier to get paid like superstars.

I’ve disagreed with a lot of Jordan’s personal and professional decisions throughout the course of his career, but I can’t help but give him his props on this one!

Follow Geoff on Twitter @snglemarriedguy

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