Can Michael Jordan rebound?
After his Charlotte Bobcats suffer the worst season in NBA history and critics start to lash out, MJ seems to be trying to bolster his image.
He’s trying to scratch some entrepreneurial and creative itches as well. Jordan’s more involved with partner Cornerstone Restaurant Group than one might expect, recently showing up for a pre-opening meeting with chef Bill Kim at the Cornerstone-backed bellyQ that occupies the former one sixtyblue space. MJ describes opening restaurants as something of a passion.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to eat in some of the best restaurants in the world,” Jordan says. “I know what makes for a memorable restaurant experience—the quality of the ingredients, the skill of the chef, the ambience and great service.”
Regardless of whether eating in great restaurants—even some of the best restaurants in the world—qualifies him to run one, “I am very hands-on” as a restaurateur, Jordan continues. “To me, the details make a difference, so whether it’s approving the logo, making sure the decor is just right or ensuring there’s truly something for everyone on the menu, I’m involved. It’s important to me that my restaurants provide an excellent experience for everyone—me included.”
It’s not as if Jordan needs the restaurant work to fill his days or pad his bank account. What with overseeing the Bobcats and his Jordan Brand, “I’ve got a lot on my plate, so to speak,” MJ says. “The one thing that has suffered is my golf game. I definitely don’t have as much time as I’d like to get out there. It’s still my favorite way to relax and unwind, though.”
And that’s as close as we’re going to get to glimpsing Jordan’s personal life, which underscores just how little we really know about who he is. While critics rail against the ghost of Jordan past and the mirage they think they know today, MJ’s longtime friend Spike Lee tells TOC that, ever since he bonded with Jordan while filming Nike commercials in 1988, “I can call Michael up any time, any time of the night, any time I need something, he’ll help me.”
But not many people ever see that side of the Bulls great, Lee admits. “Michael Jordan is one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met in my life,” the director says. “If he brings you into the fold, he’ll take a bullet for you. He’s that loyal. And, conversely [Laughs]—Dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot [Laughs].”
In other words, if you’re not on the inside, you have no clue. There’s no doubt MJ’s a hyper-competitive man who’s behaved badly at times even as he exudes immense personal charisma. But can any outside observer pretend to know his heart? Fortress Jordan is impenetrable because he wants it to be.