CHARLOTTE, N.C.: LeBron James followed Michael Jordan’s jersey number and in some ways followed his trajectory to the top of the NBA.
But he’s not ready to follow him onto the other side of the bargaining table. At least, he’s not ready to start talking about it.
“I’m not there,” James said Friday when asked if he’d like to own an NBA team one day. “I’m not there right now.”
James is still in the prime of his career. He will turn 31 in December and still has plenty of basketball left before turning to other ventures. He revealed to the Beacon Journal last week he would like to pursue a movie career following retirement — comedies, action, drama, he believes he can do it all.
Jordan waited seven years after retiring for the final time before purchasing the Hornets (then Bobcats). His Air Jordan brand remains Nike’s most powerful more than a decade after his retirement. All the while, James has been watching the path to business mogul Jordan has created.
“He’s done it as well as anyone can do it as far as present career and post, so you’re always kind of watching,” James said. “It’d be great for anyone who can come in and own a ball club, that would be pretty cool stuff. And also his brand, it continues to make an impact, so it’s pretty awesome to se what he’s still able to do after being away from the game for so long.”
As far as NBA owners go, Hornets coach Steve Clifford believes Jordan has to be one of the easiest for which to work. Whereas most owners made their fortunes in business and view NBA ownership as more of a hobby, Jordan understands the game better than most.
There was a particularly tough stretch last November when the Hornets played five games in seven nights. The finale of that was a 30-point loss at the Atlanta Hawks (their ninth in a row) one night after a grueling loss to the Golden State Warriors.
“He called the next morning and said, ‘Hey I could’ve told you we had nothing left. We put too much into Friday night [against the Warriors],’?” Clifford said. “Not many people, let alone owners, would have that perspective. To me, in many ways, he’s the easiest owner to work for.”
All of that is a conversation James can ponder another time. Right now he’s more interested in bringing the Cavaliers their first championship.
“I’ve positioned myself for a long time for whatever I want to do, if I want it,” James said. “But the main thing right now is positioning this team to be as great as we can be. That’s my only concern. That’s the main thing and that’s the only thing on my mind right now.
“Obviously, I have a lot of stuff going on, but I have a team for that and they take care of it and when my input is needed I’ll give it. But this is the position that I’m in right now.”
Mo’s a pro
Mo Williams spent a couple of months with the Hornets last season and Clifford came away impressed.
“It was about 2˝ days and he knew everything we were doing at both ends of the floor,” Clifford said. “He had a great stretch here.”
Williams averaged 17.2 points in 27 games with the Hornets while averaging 31 minutes.
“The only thing that happened was I played him into the ground,” Clifford said. “He was exhausted like the last weeks I played him so many minutes. He’s a pro player.
“He can get it going, he’s good in transition, he gets the pace going up and down the floor, he’s terrific in a pick-and-roll. You’ve got to take care of him. You let him loose and he can have a big night.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.