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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jordan thinks Dunlap good fit for 'Cats


CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said last season was the most difficult he's endured in basketball.

News photo
Big challenge: Mike Dunlap, who was an assistant at St. John's last season, will have his hands full coaching the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats this coming season. AP

"Obviously I'm a competitor, and I never want to be in the record books for failure," said the six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer.

He vows that better times are ahead for his club.

Jordan believes Charlotte has the right coach in Mike Dunlap and a good core of young players who'll help turn the struggling franchise around after finishing 7-59 a year ago — the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.

Jordan said the Bobcats still need additions, but he likes the core group that includes, among others, players like Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo as well as rookies Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffrey Taylor. Just how fast the Bobcats become a playoff contender, he said, will depend on how fast the young players develop.

And he thinks Dunlap is the perfect guy to develop those players.

"Mike is going to be a good developmental young coach and he's going to work with these kids and make sure they continue to progress," Jordan said. "We're trying to build a very strong culture in this franchise and I think we have the right personnel to do so. It can be a matter of time. It really all depends on how fast these kids develop."

Jordan is particularly high on small forward Kidd-Gilchrist, the team's No. 2 pick in the draft.

He compares him to former teammate Scottie Pippen, calling him a "connector," a versatile player who makes everybody around him better because of his ability to do so many things on both ends of the basketball floor.

While some are worried about Kidd-Gilchrist's shooting stroke, Jordan isn't.

"Everybody is complaining about his shooting but he never illustrated to me that he is afraid to shoot the basketball," Jordan said of the 201-cm rookie from Kentucky. "He can still shoot the basketball. He believes he can make shots and I think that will come."

Jordan knows Charlotte has a long way to go to get to where the Miami Heat are today — on top of the NBA world.

And he's not naive enough to think the Bobcats will get better without some important personnel moves.

Coming off a season in which they were last in the league in offense and 3-point shooting, Charlotte still doesn't have a proven go-to player and is not particularly deep off the bench. Its rebounding was horrendous last season and its defense shaky at best.

"At the end of the day you have to understand it was a shortened season and we had a lot of injuries and we had a lot of young kids thrust into a starting scenario," Jordan said.

Prior to the draft the Bobcats made a trade with Detroit that brought shooting guard Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft pick to Charlotte in exchange for small forward Corey Maggette.

They agreed to a two-year contract Thursday with former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the move has not been publicly announced.

Jordan said the Bobcats are exploring all options in an effort to upgrade the roster.

He's relying on Dunlap though, to pull it all together.

He said he walked away from his interview with the former St. John's assistant coach thinking he could play for him.

"And if I can play for this guy, anybody can play for him," Jordan said.

He called Dunlap, fair, honest and straightforward.

"No curve balls," Jordan said. "He has a strong passion for the game and that's hard to teach. I'm a strong believer that if you have a passion for something, you're going to figure it out. That is the thing I saw with him is his passion for coaching."

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