Friday, February 13, 2004
Transition Game: Michael Jordan
By Dr. Jack Ramsay Special to ESPN.com
Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from Dr. Jack Ramsay's new book "Dr. Jack's Leadership Lessons Learned from a Lifetime in Basketball." Ramsay interviewed many former NBA superstars who have used their athletic leadership capabilities to achieve success in the business world.Air Apparent: Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan's off-court success is almost as well documented as his
extraordinary achievements as a player. It was estimated that he made
$40 million a year in endorsements and auxiliary income when the Bulls
were in their championship run. He was able to do that by budgeting his
time efficiently and giving the same attention to detail that he did as a
Michael moves quickly through his many daily activities, but he
never seems to be in a hurry and never fails to give consideration to anyone
who has his attention at the moment; he makes everyone feel that
he's glad to see them. He has hired good people to take care of minutiae
and that allows him to be himself. It is fascinating to watch him.
Now that his playing days are over, Jordan has more time to attend to
his impressive business empire. He is associated with the following corporations
and products: Electric Arts, Gatorade, Hidden Beach Records,
MCI WorldCom, Michael Jordan Automotive Group, Michael Jordan
Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament, Michael Jordan Flight Schools,
NBA Videos, Jordan Brand (a clothing line), Jordan Cologne, Oakley
Sunglasses, Sara Lee Corporation, SportsLine, The Upper Deck Company,
Wilson Sporting Goods, Nike, and four Michael Jordan restaurants.
Michael is a great spokesman. He is articulate, displays an easy sense
of humor, and the camera loves him. Whether he's making a commercial
pitch on television or talking to a group, he appears completely at ease
and delivers his message clearly and succinctly.
Michael also runs the Jordan Senior Flight School, an annual three-day
basketball "camp" for men, 35 years and older, held at one of the
plush casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada (he runs two sessions of a camp for
young players, both boys and girls, at the University of California-Santa
Typically, there are about 100 participants, most of whom have
played at the high school or small-college level, but there are also some
who have never played any organized ball. All the activities are conducted
in a large conference hall - big enough to accommodate five full-length,
portable basketball courts.
After being drafted into teams, the
players receive two instructional sessions (one by MJ) and play two team
games each day. On the final day, playoffs are held and a championship
team is determined. Expensive rings, watches, and trophies go to team
and individual winners of competitions. Top college and NBA officials
referee the games, and the camp staff consists of the best college coaches
in the country, plus several - myself among them - with NBA connections.
We give teaching sessions each day and coach the teams, so that
by the end of camp, every player has contact with every coach, and, of
course, with Michael Jordan.
Michael is wonderful. He is at the camp every day, gives a half-hour
lecture/demonstration each morning on some phase of the game, then
invites "campers" to come on the court to challenge him one-on-one.
The players love it, and MJ makes it fun for them - but ever the competitor,
he doesn't ease up on anyone.
As Jordan works through his day - whether as a player, at one of his
camps, at a media session, or filming a television commercial - he gives
the impression that he is doing it because he enjoys it and that the money
he earns is a secondary priority. He is generous with his money, too, contributing
to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, UNCF (United Negro
College Fund), Special Olympics, and various other private causes.
In 1996, the University of North Carolina, MJ's alma mater, opened the Jordan
Institute, as part of its School of Social Work, to which Michael contributed
$1 million. The purpose of the institute is to strengthen family
relationships, something Michael feels strongly about. (He says his own
family structure is now solid.) In the same year, the James R. Jordan Boys
& Girls Club and Family Life Center (named for Michael's late father)
opened on Chicago's West side for inner-city youngsters and their families.
The Chicago Bulls contributed $5 million and Michael $2 million to
this project, which attracts more than a thousand participants a week.
Jordan's commercial value may have dimmed a bit, but Michael
hasn't lost his touch with the soft jumper, and his knack for business
success continues unabated.
Dr. Jack Ramsay coached the Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Click here to send a question for Dr. Jack for possible use on ESPNEWS.