Michael Jordan’s history of making personnel choices for his Charlotte Hornets hasn’t been as glorious as his playing career — that’s indisputable. (First off, what could be? And second: Adam Morrison.) But this year all is different for Jordan’s Hornets. His coach, Steve Clifford, is perfect for the balance of talent he’s put together. And Jordan’s acquisitions are paying off the way Steve Kerr and Dennis Rodman did for the Bulls during Jordan’s playing heyday. It could also just be that Jordan has been waiting to play the Heat: he made sport in the 1990s of ruining Pat Riley’s Knicks dreams, and now his Hornets are up 3-2 over Riley’s Heat in their first successful playoff series since, well, nevermind. It’s been a while.
Jordan acquired Jeremy Lin over the summer at a steep discount, calling the journeyman guard with the world famous pedigree his “most important” acquisition. Jordan explained during a preseason China trip exactly what Lin brought to the Hornets, describing Lin’s “penetration, his shooting capability, his point guard savvy. He can really pass the basketball, his energy about the game of basketball.” And Lin has been huge in Charlotte’s playoff run. In the Game 5, Lin had 11 points, seven assists and six boards, including a key jumper down the stretch in the 90-88 victory. He played 35 minutes and got to the line a team-high six times on constant penetration. Lin brought the high energy, too — making TNT’s Charles Barkley say at halftime that “Miami just can’t keep Lin in front of them.” It’s exactly what Jordan expected. And this year, Jordan is finally getting what he expects.