6-18-23 roundup: Pro basketball, football, baseball and soccer, College baseball, Legion baseball, NASCAR

By Richard Walker

A Charlotte sports era that started with enormous optimism ended Friday when the NBA’s Hornets announced Michael Jordan was selling off his majority stake in the team.

Michael Jordan

As a basketball player, Jordan’s talents are unquestioned. An NCAA, Olympic and NBA champion, the former Wilmington Laney High and University of North Carolina standout is rightly considered one of the best to have ever played the sport.

As a potential owner, minority owner and actual owner, Jordan has done lots of charitable and community work that has built good will in the Charlotte community and all across the state.

However, on the court, the struggle has been real as the franchise has made head coaching and general manager hires that have drawn scrutiny and the organization’s history of draft picks haven’t given the organization the kind of talent necessary to be consistently successful.

Charlotte’s all-time winning percentage of 43.8 percent is 5th-worst among current NBA franchises. The Hornets and New Orleans Pelicans are the only two existing franchises to have never advanced to a conference finals series. And Charlotte also currently has the longest playoff drought in the league at seven years.

Given Jordan’s basetball pedigree, much more was expected. It’s also why the Charlotte community and the region have been twice been thrilled at the prospect of Jordan running the Charlotte NBA team.

The first time came in the spring of 1999 when Jordan – then one year removed from winning his sixth NBA title as a player for the Chicago Bulls – pulled out of ownership negotiations when then-Hornets owner George Shinn.

Jordan wanted a 50 percent share of the team and full control of the franchise. Jordan said when negotiations broke down in May 1999 that “it wasn’t about money. I offered to buy him out. It was about control and we never were able to get that resolved.”

At the time, many Charlotte leaders and fans blamed Shinn for failing to cut a deal with Jordan, especially after the original Hornets franchise moved to New Orleans just three years later after a county vote for funding of a new arena was defeated. (Shinn’s image took a huge hit after a nationally-televised December 1999 sexual assault trial where he was found innocent but many details turned the region against him.)

Back then, many felt Jordan’s celebrity status would’ve made the vote a success and the current Spectrum Center to have been built sooner than it was – the facility opened in 2005.

Even after the NBA left for New Orleans, the league voted to bring a team back to Charlotte.

Bob Johnson paid $300 million for Charlotte’s second NBA expansion franchise – then-nicknamed Bobcats – and Jordan emerged again.

Initially, Jordan wasn’t a full ownership partner, though many team staffers said Jordan was Johnson’s top consultant for team matters for the Bobcats’ first two seasons of 2004-05 and 2005-06. (Johnson and Jordan became business friends during Jordan’s brief tenure as a Washington Wizards’ minority owner in Johnson’s hometown.)

On June 15, 2006, Jordan’s influence became official when he became a Bobcats’ minority team owner and took over all basketball operations.

Jordan’s control of the organization become complete on Feb. 26, 2010 when Jordan became the franchise’s majority owner when he paid Johnson $275 million while also inheriting $150 million of debt from Johnson’s ownership group.

Former Longtime veteran NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff was the Bobcats’ first head coach and general manager before “retiring” less than one year after Jordan took control of the basketball operations; Bickerstaff would return to the NBA one year later and has maintained a connection the league as an assistant coach, interim head coach or executive ever since.

After Bickerstaff moved on, Jordan’s head coaching hires have been Sam Vincent, Larry Brown, Paul Silas, Mike Dunlap, Steve Clifford, James Borrego and Clifford again.

Jordan’s general manager hires have been Rod Higgins, Rich Cho and Mitch Kupchak.

Among Jordan’s hires, he had longterm releationships with Vincent, Brown, Higgins and Kupchak.

Of the members within the rest of the organization, many include longtime Jordan friends and Jordan family members.

Since Jordan became majority team owner, the Hornets winning percentage has been 41.1 percent – 5th-worst of current NBA teams – and the tenure was lowlighted by the 7-59 season in 2012 that remains the worst winning percentage in league history in a single season.

Also, it has become almost an annual sport in this region to question whomever Jordan’s team has selected in that year’s NBA draft.

Here are some of most second-guessed decisions:

In 2006, the team selected Adam Morrison No. 3 overall when many Hornets’ scouts preferred eventual 2007 rookie of the year Brandon Roy or longtime NBA veteran Rudy Gay.

In 2008, D.J. Augustin was chosen No. 9 overall one pick before eventual NBA All-Star and NBA champion Brook Lopez was chosen.

In 2012, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was selected No. 2 overall with eventual NBA All-Stars Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard still available.

In 2013, Cody Zeller was chosen No. 4 overall when future NBA MVP and champion Giannis Antetokounmpo went No. 15.

In 2015, Frank Kaminsky was selected No. 9 overall when future NBA All-Star Devin Booker went No. 13.

In 2017, Malik Monk was chosen No. 11 overall when future NBA All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo went Nos. 13 and 14 and Mitchell was considered a favorite of the Hornets’ Clifford.

In 2018, the team selected future NBA All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander before trading his rights away to the Los Angeles Clippers for the rights to Miles Bridges.

Is there a common thread to the struggles Jordan has faced as an owner and/or top basketball official?

One theory is that being one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen – if not the greatest – has made it hard for Jordan to evaluate other players.

It’s also true that his team has never exceeded the NBA salary cap enough to incur a luxury tax – a decision that has cost the franchise the possibility of retaining or attracting some free agents.

But a comment made 11 years ago by one of Jordan’s former close friends Charles Barkley offers another insight.

Barkley said this about Jordan to ESPN Chicago in 2012:

“One thing about being famous is the people around you, you pay all their bills so they very rarely disagree with you because they want you to pick up the check. They want to fly around on your private jet so they never disagree with you. I don’t think Michael has hired enough people around him who will disagree.”

Barkley, one of the most prominent NBA analysts for the TNT network, knew many of Jordan’s inner circle and frequently discussed basketball decisions with Jordan before that comment was made public.

Just last November, Barkley told Bleacher Report those comments forever altered his relationship with Jordan.

“It’s a really unfortunate situation for me and him,” Barkley said. “But I’m going to do my job, first and foremost. Because I can’t criticize other coaches and general managers, and give him a pass because he’s my best friend. I just can’t do that. What I said was, ‘Michael’s got to surround himself with better people. And I worry about him being successful.’”

Barkley added that immediately after those 2012 comments, Jordan took offense.

“It wasn’t a pleasant conversation” according to Barkley – and Barkley says the two haven’t spoken since.

According to ESPN – and with his majority stake sale pending approval by other NBA owners – Jordan is slated to meet with the Hornets’ two most likely No. 2 picks in Thursday’s draft – Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller.












Legion baseball

(Sunday’s games)

Lincoln County 16, Gaston Braves 6 (6 innings): Gavin Houser (3 hits, triple, 2 RBIs), Landon Burns (3 hits), Nathan Borchardt (home run, 4 RBIs) and winner Kade Scott (4 2/3 innings) and reliever Matthew Cipriano (1 1/3 innings) led Lincoln County and Matthew Makowski (2 doubles), Gavin Gibson (home run, 2 RBIs) and Carston Green (home run, 2 RBIs) led the Braves.

Cleveland County 2, Rutherford County 1: Starter Colby Putnam (6 2/3 innings) got the win and reliever Ryan Ropp (1/3 inning) the save for Cleveland County, whose offense was led by Putnam’s triple, Nick Williams’ RBI single and Steven Spaes RBI sacrifice fly.

Cramer Junior Legion 10, Cherryville 6















College baseball

The College World Series schedule:

(Friday, June 16)
Game 1: Oral Roberts (51-11) vs. TCU (42-22) – Oral Roberts 6-5
Game 2: Virginia (50-13) vs. Florida (50-15) – Florida 6-5
(Saturday, June 17)
Game 3: Stanford (44-18) vs. Wake Forest (52-10) – Wake Forest 3-2
Game 4: Tennessee (43-20) vs. LSU (48-15) – LSU 6-3
(Sunday, June 18)
Game 5: TCU vs. Virginia – TCU 4-3
Game 6: Oral Roberts vs. Florida – Florida 5-4
(Monday, June 19)
Game 7: Stanford vs. Tennessee, 2 p.m.
Game 8: Wake Forest vs. LSU, 7 p.m.
(Tuesday, June 20)
Game 9: TCU vs. Oral Roberts, 2 p.m.
Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 7 p.m.
(Wednesday, June 21)
Game 11: Florida vs. Game 9 winner, 2 p.m.
Game 12: Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 7 p.m.
(Thursday, June 22)
Game 13: Game 11 loser (if 1st loss) vs. Game 11 winner, 2 or 7 p.m.
Game 14: Game 12 loser (if 1st loss) vs. Game 12 winner, 7 p.m.

Best-of-3 finals: June 16 bracket winner vs. June 17 bracket winner
Game 1: June 24, 7 p.m.
Game 2: June 25, 3 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): June 26, 7 p.m.














Pro soccer

Here is Charlotte FC’s full 2023 schedule with results:

(7-7-4 record)
Feb. 25 New England Revolution (L 0-1)
March 4 at St. Louis City SC (L 1-3)
March 11 Atlanta United FC (L 0-3)
March 18 at Orlando City SC (W 2-1)
March 25 New York Red Bulls (T 1-1)
April 1 at Toronto FC (T 2-2)
April 8 at Real Salt Lake (L 1-3)
April 15 Colorado Rapids (T 2-2)
April 22 Columbus Crew (W 1-0)
April 29 at D.C. United (L 0-3)
May 6 New York City FC (W 3-2)
May 13 at Atlanta United FC (W 3-1)
May 17 Chicago Fire FC (W 2-1)
May 20 Nashville SC (L 1-2)
May 27 at L.A. Galaxy (W 1-0)
May 31 at Philadelphia Union (L 0-1)
June 3 at Columbus Crew (W 4-2)
June 10 Seattle Sounders FC (T 3-3)
June 21 at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
June 24 CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
July 5 at New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.
July 8 FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.
July 15 at CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 20 at Inter Miami CF, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 L.A. FC, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 30 Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2 at Nashville SC, 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 at FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 Inter Miami CF, TBD














Pro baseball

Durham 15, Charlotte 8: The Knights wrapped up a 6-game road series with a split after Sunday’s loss. Victor Reyes hit his team-high 14th home run and and has an International League-leading 56 RBIs this season. Charlotte is off until Tuesday when it returns home on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. when it opens a 6-game series against Louisville.

Here is the full Charlotte Knights’ 2023 schedule:

Overall record: 32-37
March 31-April 2 Louisville (2-1)
April 4-9 at Columbus (3-3)
April 11-16 Jacksonville (3-3)
April 18-23 at Louisville (2-4)
April 25-30 Norfolk (2-4)
May 2-7 at Gwinnett (4-2)
May 9-14 Durham (3-3)
May 16-21 Scranton-Wilkes Barre (2-4)
May 23-28 at Jacksonville (4-2)
May 30-June 4 Nashville (3-3)
June 6-11 at Gwinnett (1-5)
June 13-18 at Durham (3-3)
June 20-25 Louisville
June 28-July 3 at Norfolk
July 4-9 Jacksonville
July 14-16 at Lehigh Valley
July 18-23 Memphis
July 25-30 at Durham
Aug. 1-6 at Norfolk
Aug. 8-13 Gwinnett
Aug. 15-20 at Nashville
Aug. 22-24, 26-27 Memphis
Aug. 28-Sept. 3 at Jacksonville
Sept. 5-10 Durham
Sept. 12-17 Nashville
Sept. 18-24 at Memphis

Gastonia 5, Staten Island 1: Starter and winner Gunnar Kines went six innings to pick up the victory for the Honey Hunters as they completed a 3-game series sweep.

Here is the full Gastonia Honey Hunters’ 2023 schedule:

Overall record: 32-13
April (3-0)
28 Frederick (W 10-4)
29 Frederick (W 8-6)
30 Frederick (W 7-4)

May (17-9)
2 at So. Maryland (W 8-6)
3 at So. Maryland (W 11-6)
4 at So. Maryland (L 2-4)
5 at Long Island (W 3-2)
6 at Long Island (L 1-3)
7 at Long Island (L 4-6)
9 Frederick (W 2-1 in 10)
10 Frederick (W 10-0)
11 Frederick (W 9-7)
12 at High Point (L 5-8)
13 at High Point (W 12-5)
14 at High Point (L 3-4)
16 Charleston, W.Va. (W 13-4)
17 Charleston, W.Va. (W 4-2)
18 Charleston, W.Va. (L 4-6)
19 at Lexington (W 15-2)
20 at Lexington (W 8-0)
21 at Lexington (W 5-3)
23 at Frederick (W 6-0)
24 at Frederick (W 8-5)
25 at Frederick (W 8-3)
26 Lancaster (L 3-4 in 11)
27 Lancaster (ppd., rain)
28 Lancaster (ppd., rain)
29 Lancaster (W 9-1)
29 Lancaster (L 3-4)
30 High Point (L 8-10)
31 High Point (W 14-10)

June (11-4)
1 High Point (W 7-4)
2 Lexington (W 3-2)
3 Lexington (W 10-1)
4 Lexington (W 4-1)
6 at Charleston, W.Va. (W 4-1)
7 at Charleston, W.Va. (L 1-13)
8 at Charleston, W.Va. (L 2-4)
9 at Frederick (W 5-4)
10 at Frederick (W 12-7)
11 at Frederick (L 6-9)
13 So. Maryland (W 5-0)
14 So. Maryland (L 9-10)
15 So. Maryland (W 11-6)
16 Staten Island (W 5-4)
17 Staten Island (W 7-5)
18 Staten Island (W 5-1)
20 at Lancaster
21 at Lancaster
22 at Lancaster
23 at Staten Island
24 at Staten Island
25 at Staten Island
27 High Point
28 High Point
29 High Point
30 So. Maryland

1 So. Maryland
2 So. Maryland
4 at Frederick
5 at Frederick
6 at Frederick
7 at High Point
8 at High Point
9 at High Point
11 at Charleston, W.Va.
12 at Charleston, W.Va.
13 at Charleston, W.Va.
14 Staten Island
15 Staten Island
16 Staten Island
18 High Point
19 High Point
20 High Point
21 at So. Maryland
22 at So. Maryland
23 at So. Maryland
25 at Staten Island
26 at Staten Island
27 at Staten Island
28 at Long Island
29 at Long Island
30 at Long Island

1 High Point
2 High Point
3 High Point
4 Lexington
5 Lexington
6 Lexington
8 Frederick
9 Frederick
10 Frederick
11 at Long Island
12 at Long Island
13 at Long Island
15 York
16 York
17 York
18 Lexington
19 Lexington
20 Lexington
22 at Long Island
23 at Long Island
24 at Long Island
25 at Lancaster
26 at Lancaster
27 at Lancaster
29 Frederick
30 Frederick
31 Frederick

1 So. Maryland
2 So. Maryland
3 So. Maryland
4 So. Maryland
5 at High Point
6 at High Point
7 at High Point
8 Charleston, W.Va.
9 Charleston, W.Va.
10 Charleston, W.Va.
12 So. Maryland
13 So. Maryland
14 So. Maryland
15 at Lexington
16 at Lexington
17 at Lexington













Pro football

The Carolina Panthers’ training camp schedule:

Practices (at Wofford unless noted):
July 26-27 10:15 a.m.
July 29 11 a.m.
July 31 10:25 a.m.
Aug. 1 10:15 p.m.
Aug. 2 Fan Fest at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, 7 p.m.
Aug. 4 10:25 a.m.
Aug. 5-6 10:15 a.m.
Aug. 8 10:15 a.m.
Aug. 9 Joint practice with N.Y. Jets, 10:15 a.m.
Aug. 10 Joint practice with N.Y. Jets, 9 a.m.

Here is the 2023 preseason and regular season schedule for the Carolina Panthers:

Aug. 12 N.Y. Jets, 4 p.m.
Aug. 18 at N.Y. Giants, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 Detroit, 8 p.m.

(Regular season)
Sept. 10 at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Sept. 18 New Orleans, 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Seattle, 4:05 p.m.
Oct. 1 Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Miami, 1 p.m.
Oct. 22 OFF WEEK
Oct. 29 Houston, 1 p.m.
Nov. 5 Indianapolis, 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Chicago, 8:15 p.m.
Nov. 19 Dallas, 1 p.m.
Nov. 26 at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Dec. 3 at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Dec. 10 at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Dec. 17-18 Atlanta, TBD
Dec. 24 Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Dec. 31 at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Jan. 6-7 Tampa Bay, TBD











Auto racing

The 2023 NASCAR schedule (with winners in parentheses):

Feb 5 Clash at The Coliseum, Los Angeles CA (Martin Truex, Jr.)
Feb 16 Duel No. 1, Daytona Beach FL (Joey Logano)
Feb 16 Duel No. 2, Daytona Beach FL (Aric Almirola)
Feb 19 Daytona 500, Daytona Beach FL (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.)
Feb 26 NASCAR Cup Series at California, Fontana CA (Kyle Busch)
Mar 5 NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas, Las Vegas NV (William Byron)
Mar 12 NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix, Avondale AZ (William Byron-2)
Mar 19 NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta, Hampton GA (Joey Logano-2)
Mar 26 NASCAR Cup Series at Circuit of the Americas, Austin TX (Tyler Reddick)
Apr 2 NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond, Richmond VA (Kyle Larson)
Apr 9 NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol, Bristol TN (Christopher Bell)
Apr 16 NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville, Martinsville VA (Kyle Larson-2)
Apr 23 NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega, Lincoln AL (Kyle Busch-2)
May 1 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover, Dover DE (Martin Truex, Jr.-2)
May 7 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas, Kansas City KS (Denny Hamlin)
May 14 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington, Darlington SC (William Byron-3)
May 21 NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Open Race, North Wilkesboro NC (Josh Berry)
May 21 NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race, North Wilkesboro NC (Kyle Larson-3)
May 29 NASCAR Cup Series at Charlotte, Concord NC (Ryan Blaney)
Jun 4 NASCAR Cup Series at World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison IL (Kyle Busch-3)
Jun 11 NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma, Sonoma CA (Martin Trues, Jr.-3)
Jun 25 NASCAR Cup Series at Nashville, Lebanon TN, 7 p.m. on NBC
Jul 2 NASCAR Cup Series at Chicago, Chicago IL, 5:30 p.m. on NBC
Jul 9 NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta, Hampton GA, 7 p.m. on USA
Jul 16 NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire, Loudon NH, 2:30 p.m. on USA
Jul 23 NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono, Long Pond PA, 2:30 p.m. on USA
Jul 30 NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond, Richmond VA, 3 p.m. on USA
Aug 6 NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan, Brooklyn MI, 2:30 p.m. on USA
Aug 13 NASCAR Cup Series at Indianapolis Road Course, Speedway IN, 2:30 p.m. on NBC
Aug 20 NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen, Watkins Glen NY, 3 p.m. on USA
Aug 26 NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona, Daytona Beach FL, 7 p.m. on NBC

(Cup Playoffs)
Sep 3 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington, Darlington SC, 6 p.m. on USA
Sep 10 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas, Kansas City KS, 3 p.m. on USA
Sep 16 NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol, Bristol TN, 7:30 p.m. on USA
Sep 24 NASCAR Cup Series at Texas, Fort Worth TX, 3:30 p.m. on USA
Oct 1 NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega, Lincoln AL, 2 p.m. on NBC
Oct 8 NASCAR Cup Series at Charlotte, Concord NC, 2 p.m. on NBC
Oct 15 NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas, Las Vegas NV, 2:30 p.m. on NBC
Oct 22 NASCAR Cup Series at Miami, Homestead FL, 2:30 p.m. on NBC
Oct 29 NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville, Martinsville, 2 p.m. on NBC
Nov 5 NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix, Avondale AZ, 3