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Sports

Bobcats inspired by the boss
Michael Jordan boosts the troops
 
Published Wednesday, March 26, 2014 4:17 am
by Steve Reed, The Associated Press

When Michael Jordan speaks, people still listen.

The Charlotte Bobcats owner praised his team during a pregame locker room speech last week before beating Cleveland, but warned his players it’s only going to get tougher from here on out.

Jordan spoke directly about the Bobcats potentially making the playoffs — something that seemed inconceivable five months ago for a team that was 7-59 and 21-61 the previous two seasons.

“He talked to them about the progress that he had seen and praised them for their attitude and togetherness as a team,” coach Steve Clifford said. “And he let them know, which I thought was perfect, the toughest part is ahead. We made our first step and it now gets tougher. It was a great message.”

A message that apparently inspired the Bobcats, currently seventh in the Eastern Conference and who have surpassed their win total from the previous two seasons combined. The Bobcats also own the tiebreaker against both Detroit and Cleveland, the ninth- and 10th-place teams in the East.

“If that don’t motivate you, I don’t know what will,” Jefferson said of Jordan addressing the team.

Clifford said he asked Jordan to speak to the players before the game and he gladly accepted the invitation. He said players were “locked in” to every word Jordan spoke.

“Let’s face it, if you’re coaching anywhere, he would be the first guy that you would say, ‘Would you mind coming to talk to our team?’” Clifford said. “I’m saying he’s our owner and, shoot, you are always looking for a little edge. I thought it was perfect.”

Said Jefferson: “He told us he was proud of us, but we have a long way to go. We can’t be happy with what we have done so far. We have to continue to grow and get better.”

Charlotte’s seven-game home winning streak – broken by Houston on Monday – was its longest since a seven-game run in March 2010.

“There are (but a few) games left and it’s time to start talking about the playoffs — about not just qualifying but getting our team game-ready for the playoffs and guys getting their individual games ready,” Clifford said.

 

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