Aside from being perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan has become one of the league's most important voices in collective bargaining agreement negotiations. As a former player who has moved into a majority ownership role with the Charlotte Hornets franchise, he has gained a unique perspective on things that makes everyone else listen closely anytime he speaks.
The NBA announced that another labor deal had tentatively been agreed upon earlier this week, and members of both the owners and players of the bargaining table praised Jordan for the way he was able to help with the process.
"It's an emotional endeavor on both sides," said Cleveland Cavaliers forward James Jones, secretary-treasurer of the National Basketball Players Association. "So you have to speak on the same frequency. Mike is able to do that, because he understands the opposition."
NBA quoted Union president Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers: "I think he speaks from a great place, because he's been on both sides of the table as a player and as an owner. It's always good conversation, good to hear him give his opinion on things. Just like with anything, you disagree on some things, agree on some."
According to Fox Sports, there was a huge incentive for both the league and the union for the players to make sure to get a deal done well before the current one expired at the end of the latest season. The NBA's new broadcast rights deal is bringing billions of dollars in new revenue to the league, and any kind of labor dispute would seem silly when there is more than enough finance to go around. Nonetheless, it's clear that Jordan's ability to communicate from an unlikely position was largely helpful anytime the negotiations may have hit a problem.