Jordan claims usual spot next to Bobcats bench


Feb 15

Michael Jordan took in Tuesday’s Bulls-Bobcats game from courtside bench seats with Scottie Pippen on one side and the team he owns on the other.

“Sitting next to an old friend as we watch my Bulls and his Bobcats at the United Center,” Pippen tweeted shortly after the game began.

While the fans at the United Center aren’t used to seeing Jordan, it was just another night for Charlotte and its players. Bobcats interim coach Paul Silas is used to having MJ keep close tabs on his team and it only meant a little additional assistance from Jordan, who routinely sits nearby during home games.

“I hear him sometimes, the things that he says, and he’s right on the money,” said Silas of Jordan’s in-game input. “If he thinks we need to get a guy out of the game, ‘Come on over here and sit by me.’ When things are not going well, he lets us know it. When we do very well, he lets us know that.”

Jordan, who turns 48 on Thursday of this week, created a buzz when he took part in practice last week and apparently more than held his own.

“He’s Mike. He’s been kicking our (butts),” Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace told reporters last week. “He still has it. He doesn’t have his quickness, but he’s a scorer, he’s a shooter. The last thing to go is your jump shot, and he still has that.”

Silas, agreed, telling Chicago’s ESPN Radio 1000 on Friday that Jordan could “probably average 15 to 20 points a game” if he were to get in shape and attempt a comeback, something that is not in the works.

“No, not at all,” said Silas of a Jordan comeback. “He is what he is. If he wanted to come back, certainly he would be able to. Whatever he wants to do, he’s the man. But he’s not going to come back. I like the fact that he is so involved. He comes to just about every practice when he’s there and he and I talk very often. I love his input.”

What Silas also likes is that Jordan, in his experiences with the six-time world champion and hall of famer, has been a straight shooter.

“He’s been around for so long and he’s the best player to ever play this game,” said Silas on Tuesday. “Now, with the success we’re having, he’s really excited about this team. He’s tremendous. He gives you his word and he keeps it. That’s what I really like about him.”

Silas believes that Jordan’s presence has helped push the Bobcats, who are 15-12 under Silas, after going 9-19 over the season’s first 28 games.

“He’s come out, practiced with us, and has got the guys working hard,” said Silas. “It was kind of a surprise to us, but he worked the defensive drills we were in and was up and down the court. He was talking smack and it was fun to see.”

One might be inclined to credit Jordan’s impact for Charlotte’s 109-89 victory against the Lakers on Monday—the Bobcats’ largest margin of victory of the season and the Lakers’ largest loss of the season. But it was actually the Bobcats’ eighth win over the Lakers in the last 10 meetings. Furthermore, Charlotte’s all-time.615 winning percentage is the best of any team in the NBA against the Lakers.

As for Jordan, it will be his first trip to the United Center this season, but not his last. On March 12, the Bulls will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its 1991 NBA Championship, welcoming back former players and coaches from for a recognition ceremony at halftime when Chicago hosts the Utah Jazz.

Thomas hits 1,000 games

Against the Bobcats on Tuesday, Kurt Thomas played in his 1,000th NBA game, becoming the 96th player in league history to have played in 1,000 or more games. With this accomplishment, he becomes the 12th active player with 1,000 or more games played. The organization will present Thomas, who was recognized as the team took the court for tip-off, with the game ball.

Comeback kids

In Chicago’s 97-88 win at New Orleans on Saturday night, the Bulls trailed by 12 points in the third quarter, but still defeated the Hornets. It was Chicago’s sixth win this season in which it overcame a deficit of 12 or more points in the second half. The Bulls had only five wins of that type over the previous two seasons combined. (Elias Sports Bureau)

Road warriors

Chicago is 13-12 on the road this year. The last time the Bulls posted a winning road record in a single season was 1997-98, when they went 25-16. The Bulls are presently one of 10 teams in the NBA with a winning road record.

Bulls vs. Bobcats season notes

Charlotte has never swept the season series versus Chicago … in last season’s regular-season finale, Chicago defeated Chicago 98-89 to finish 41-41 and secure the eighth and final playoff spot in the East … Chicago is 9-3 all time against Charlotte in the Windy City and 6-6 versus the Bobcats in Charlotte … Chicago won last year’s season series 3-1, with the Chicago taking both games at the UC and splitting two games on the road … Derrick Rose posted 26 points, five assists and four boards, while Joakim Noah recorded a double-double with 11 points and 16 boards in their last meeting (04/03) at the UC … in 2008-09, Chicago lost the season series to the Bobcats 2-1 … Chicago’s lone victory came at the United Center on April 15, 113-106 … last season in their four meetings Chicago outscored Charlotte 98.8 to 95.0 and outshot the Bobcats .484 to .431 … since their inaugural season in 2004-05, Chicago holds an overall record of 15-9 against the Bobcats … the Bulls are 1-1 in overtime games versus Charlotte.

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (02.15.11):

Audio—Bobcats interim coach Paul Silas’ on Michael Jordan (02.15.11):

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