D.C.’s rarified Air — Staff Editorial

Michael Jordan will become director of basketball operations and part owner of the Washington Wizards — good news for the struggling franchise, the National Basketball Association and the District.

Jordan’s trademark as a player was his uncanny ability to make his teammates better, leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships.

Whether His Airness will have the same effect in management is yet to be seen, but the Wizards can’t get much worse. The franchise hasn’t won a playoff game in 12 years and it’s been over two decades since the team, then called the Bullets, won a playoff series.

One thing Jordan knows how to do is win, and he will try to impart his unparalleled work ethic on the franchise. He has already stated that he will practice with the team whether head coach Gar Heard likes it. Jordan is in charge, and he made it known that anyone who isn’t on the same page is expendable.

NBA Commissioner David Stern pushed for Jordan to become an owner in the league. The relationship between the NBA and Jordan is simple: Jordan needs the NBA, but more importantly, the NBA needs Jordan. His star power is unrivaled, his charisma contagious. Jordan, even in a business suit, will get seats filled at the MCI Center and wherever the Wizards travel.

Moreover, Jordan will become the third black part owner in the NBA. In a league in which 85 percent of the players are black, the fact that so few blacks own or operate teams is discouraging. Jordan said the position of Wes Unseld, the general manager of the Wizards and one of the few black general managers in the NBA, is safe.

As for the city of Washington, Jordan brings a powerful non-political presence the District. In a city with a majority black population, Jordan will make a great role model for youth and perhaps bring a bit of hope to the capital’s blighted neighborhoods.

Jordan isn’t simply a basketball player or a businessman – he’s a phenomenon. Now that Jordan has a stake in the future of the Wizards, he’ll do all he can to bring the team to his superhuman level of performance. Some of that effort might just rub off on the NBA and the city of Washington.

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