From Comcast SportsNetCHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Michael Jordan could no longer hide his frustration midway through the Bobcats' dismal season last year. Not wanting anyone to see how angry he was, Charlotte's owner moved from his seat at the end of the team's bench to his more secluded luxury suite high above the court.Still, he didn't give up on his club then and he isn't now.The ultra-competitive Jordan said despite watching his club "hit rock bottom" during the most miserable season in NBA history, he's "in it for the long haul" when it comes to seeing his struggling franchise transformed into a consistent winner.He knows it won't be a quick, easy process."Are we a playoff team? C'mon, we can't expect that," Jordan said Thursday. "But we need to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I'm not real happy about the record book scenario last year. It's very, very frustrating."Charlotte finished 7-59, recording the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.Jordan, who won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, believes he has the right man to turn things around in new coach Mike Dunlap.Dunlap has taken a no-nonsense, back-to-basics approach to coaching basketball -- something Jordan said has been missing in Charlotte."For years those steps have been skipped," Jordan said. "We don't have a star that can carry the team, so you've got to learn to play together. That is what I love about (Dunlap). He's going to get back to the basics with good passes, pivots, boxing out, running, taking care of the ball and taking good shots. All of the things that were lost."Jordan said the challenge has been getting players to buy in, particularly when it comes to Dunlap's grueling three- to four-hour marathon practices.But he's there to make sure they do.Jordan saw what he perceived as "resistance" from some players to Dunlap's ways earlier this week, pulled them aside after practice and dressed them down. He told them he fully supports Dunlap's philosophy and if they don't agree with it, they won't be around for long.That seemed to get the players' attention.Jordan said the next day he saw a change in attitude."I want to establish a culture within this organization so that when you plug a guy in, the culture is sitting there and no one guy is bigger than that culture," Jordan said. "You either fit in or you don't fit in. When you look at organizations that are established they have a winning culture."Jordan said once the Bobcats establish that culture more big-name free agents will want to come to Charlotte."Last year we went through the process of stripping down the organization and trying to build that back up," Jordan said. "And this is another step toward that. Getting a young coach who understands our vision about what type of team we want to be and then being able to go pluck some of these (free agents) to mesh with what we have."The Bobcats added some veteran leadership to a young team this offseason, claiming center Brendan Haywood off waivers, trading for guard Ben Gordon and signing free agent Ramon Sessions from the Los Angeles Lakers.While all three are proven commodities and bring various skills, none are considered franchise players -- certainly not the way Jordan was with the Bulls.Jordan would love to have a marquee player.And if that player does comes available in free agency or via trade -- and if he wants to play in Charlotte -- Jordan said he's willing to go to great lengths to get him."I'll spend money, that's not even a question, if a person fits what we want to do and it makes sense," Jordan said. "But I don't think it makes sense for us to be in a luxury-tax situation and fighting for the eighth spot in the playoffs. That doesn't make any sense. You have to spend money wisely."Jordan won't say when he expects the Bobcats to make the playoffs or even how many wins it would take for him to consider this a successful season.He only told Dunlap he expects the team to be much better on Feb. 1 than it is Friday night when Charlotte opens the season against the Indiana Pacers."Our (long-term) success is predicated on a lot of things, especially this year," Jordan said. "First, how will the (young players) adapt to the process we're going through. We'll know what holes we have to plug at the end of the year because we have some key contracts coming up" with Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens becoming free agents."We will start to plug some of that," Jordan said. "But it's hard for me to make that suggestion of two or three years we're going to be in the playoffs. I hope we are."The Bobcats should have significant salary-cap space next year, and Jordan hopes the new CBA will prevent players jumping to what he calls "mega-teams" and create more parity throughout the league.Any way you look at it, Jordan and the Bobcats have a long way to go. But Jordan wants to see it through."I don't anticipate getting out of this business," he said. "My competitive nature is I want to succeed. It's always been said that when I can't find a way to do anything, I will find a way to do it."I didn't get in the business to try to get out. Granted I want to turn this thing around as fast as possible but this is obviously a process. I'm committed to it and I want to pass it down to my family members or my kids. I want this to always be in Charlotte."
During our series discussing the 1986 Boston Celtics, we have sat down with many players from that championship, along with members of the media that were close to the team.
This week features a few of the opponents that were very familiar with the 1980’s Celtics - Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, former Celtics coach (and Hawk) Doc Rivers, and Lakers great James Worthy.
BOSTON -- Early in 2016 praises were sung around the league that Xander Bogaerts was the best hitter in baseball.
Rightfully so. For a good portion of the season he led the league in both batting average and hits. But between Mookie Betts’ ascension and Bogaerts’ drop in average from .331 on 7/29 to .306 after Monday night’s game, he’s taken a back seat.
But the Red Sox shortstop’s month-long dry spell hasn’t been a straight decline. Although he was held hitless Monday, Bogaerts went 6-for-13 (.462) against Kansas City.
In fact, the 23-year-old doesn’t even consider the recent month of struggles the worst stretch of his career.
“2014 probably,” Bogaerts said, “yeah I had a terrible, terrible few months -- probably three months.”
That was of course the season a lot came into question surrounding the now All-Star shortstop, so he was pretty spot on. In 2014 Bogaerts went from hitting .304 through 5/31, to .248 by the end of June, .244 after his last game in July, all the way down to .224 by the last day of August.
Bogaerts would hit .313 that September and finish with a .240 average -- but more importantly, an appreciation of what he’d experienced.
“That definitely helped me become a better person, a better player -- and understanding from that and learning,” Bogaerts said.
From that experience, he gained a better understanding of the importance of maintaining a consistent day-to-day routine.
“That has to stay the same,” Bogaerts said without question in his voice. “The league adjusted, they adjusted to me. It kind of took a longer time to adjust to them. They’ve just been pitching me so differently compared to other years.”
Bogaerts has had the point reinforced to him throughout, with Red Sox assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez serving as one voice of reinforcement.
“When you have a routine from the mental side, physical side, when you struggle that’s when you really need that,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been so good with his daily preparation, it doesn’t matter the result of the game. He can always go to something that feels comfortable.”
“He’s been so comfortable and confident with his daily routine and preparation that it allows him -- when he doesn’t get the results he wants in the game -- to have some peace knowing that the next day, we’re going to go back to doing that again.”
It’s clear Bogaerts needs to maintain his daily routine to help work through slumps -- and maintain hot streaks -- but Rodriguez made it clear, consistent preparation from a hitter doesn’t magically cure every problem.
“That doesn’t mean that because you stick with the routine you’re going to have results,” Rodriguez said. “What it means is, [because] you know and believe in that routine that you know you’re going to get out of it.”
Which means in addition to sticking to his normal routine, Bogaerts also had to identify flaws elsewhere in order work through his problems. He came to realize the problem was more mechanically based than mental -- given he’d done everything to address that.
“They pitched me differently, and some stuff I wanted to do with the ball I couldn’t do,” Bogaerts said. “I just continued doing it until I had to make the adjustment back.”
Bogaerts isn’t fully out of the dark, but he’s taken steps in the right direction of late -- and is nowhere near the skid he experienced in 2014. He and Rodriguez fully believe the All-Star’s ability to maintain a clear mind will carry him through whatever troubles he’s presented with the rest of the way.
“The more stuff you have in you’re head is probably not going to help your chances,” Bogaerts explained, “so have a clear mind -- but also have the trust in your swing that you’re going to put a good swing on [the pitch] regardless of whatever the count is.”
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.
Ryan Johnston and Mike Flynn talk about the Tom Brady/Deflategate joke Peyton Manning told during Comedy Central's Roast of Rob Lowe.