Michael Jordan is generally considered the best basketball player of all time, but he’s been less distinguished in the later phase of his career, as a team owner and executive. On Wednesday night, Jordan did something that may go down as the most memorable moment of his time as owner- he slapped one of his players upside the head, during a game.
During Wednesday night’s game between the Hornets and the Detroit Pistons, as reported by Deadspin, Charlotte’s Jeremy Lamb hit what appeared to be the game-winning shot with less than a second left on the clock. But when Hornets guard Malik Monk ran onto the court to celebrate with Lamb, Monk was called for a technical foul, giving Detroit one last shot. Monk’s mistake ultimately didn’t affect the outcome of the game, as the Hornets defeated the Pistons.
After the technical foul, Jordan, who was sitting at courtside, summoned Monk and could be seen yelling at him for an extended period, punctuating it with a pair of slaps upside the head. It’s not clear exactly what Jordan said, but he was clearly unhappy.
The slap was light enough that it probably won’t be considered “violence,” and it would appear unlikely that Jordan will face any discipline from the league. It’s extremely rare for an owner to have that type of confrontation with a player in public during a game, but then again most owners aren’t ex-players, much less all-time greats of the game like Jordan.
MJ wasn't exactly thrilled with Malik Monk after the Hornets got a too many players technical for early celebration in their win. pic.twitter.com/mqQK5M9BHs— ESPN (@espn) December 13, 2018
Jordan became the controlling owner of the team, then known as the Charlotte Bobcats, in 2010. The team has made the playoffs three times under Jordan’s ownership, losing in the first round each time.
After retiring as a player, for the second time, in 1998, Jordan joined the Washington Wizards in 2000 as president of basketball operations in a deal that included an ownership stake. The following year, Jordan decided to return as a player for the Wizards, which necessitated giving up his ownership shares. Jordan had planned to return to his front office role after retiring for the final time in 2002, but then-Wizards owner Abe Pollin fired him instead.
Jordan then flirted with several other potential ownership arrangements, including the Milwaukee Bucks, before moving to buy the Charlotte team in his home state of North Carolina in 2010.
Monk was drafted by Charlotte in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft out of Kentucky and has averaged 7.8 points per game in the first 89 games of his career.