No matter how much the coach would welcome it, Michael Jordan swears this isn't the first step toward a comeback.
He's the boss, and he's also arguably the greatest basketball player ever.
So Jordan decided to go hands-on at practice for two days with the Charlotte Bobcats, reviewing film, tossing up a few jump shots and sending a message.
That message -- you're not as good as you think you are individually. Think like a team, be more meticulous in preparation and execution and good will follow.
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He called it a "workshop." Monday he showed up in street clothes. Tuesday he was in full gear with one key modification -- the world's most famous Nike endorser taped over the adidas logo on his Bobcats practice jersey.
Jordan, part-owner with oversight of basketball operations, said he told the players, "You have no all-stars. None! That means everybody has got to rely on each other to be successful.
"Until we develop an all-star who can take over a game, it's very important for them to understand they have to play as a unit.
"A lot of the little things these guys are not doing is strictly about the focus."
Jordan said he wasn't scolding. A lot of Tuesday was about having fun, lightening the mood after this team lost 10 of 12 games. Late in practice, Jordan played one-on-one with various guards, and according to at least one player, there were side bets on each possession with pretty high stakes.
Jordan hit several jump shots over various Bobcats, then Jason Richardson got a clean block, something he said he'll always remember. Jordan looked sharp enough that coach Sam Vincent did some daydreaming.
"No question in my mind he'd still be very effective in the NBA," Vincent said of Jordan, who turned 44 in February. "He might not be Air Jordan, but he would definitely, definitely help this team.
"His presence is electrifying, even if he was going to play just eight to 10 minutes, just to set people up. I don't think there's any chance you could talk him into it.
"But it is Christmas.''
Jordan put a stop to all that quickly.
"He can lobby all he wants. They can't afford me," Jordan told the Observer, adding, "No comeback!" as he left the practice floor.
Jordan decided to pitch in after the Bobcats blew a halftime lead on national TV Friday against Orlando. He liked how unselfishly they played in the first half, then saw that approach evaporate in the second half.
Jordan said his players' behavior suggested, "'It's a television game. Wow! This is where I can showcase my talents!' It became more of an individual approach, not using all the components within the team that you did in the first half."
So he critiqued some game film, then was talked into putting on the practice gear.
"Initially I said no, mainly because I felt like, if you're going to compete at this level, and you have the inner drive to be the best athlete (possible), you definitely don't need anybody else to motivate you," Jordan said. "But that was all predicated on the way I approached the situation, as opposed to how some of these kids approach it."
Is this a one-shot deal? The players, particularly Richardson, would love for Jordan to show up once or twice a month to work out. Jordan considers that a carrot, based on their performance.
"If you go out tomorrow and do the same things, then (you show by your actions, you) could care less whether I come out and play and hang out with you," Jordan said. "But if you take what I said, and me being around, to good use, then it's a tool we can revisit quite often."
Jordan doesn't give many interviews, but when he does speak, he's typically candid. His thoughts on several Bobcats issues:
• On point guard Raymond Felton: "He's (approaching) his fourth year. By now we should start seeing some consistency in his play. Less turnovers and more leadership, (where) you don't come down, lose the ball and (get) no shot in three straight plays.''
• On Emeka Okafor: "We've got a great post-up guy. Now we've got to get the ball to him and make him a threat. We've done good things when we get the ball into the middle. Now, that's not going to happen every night, but at least you put some pressure on the defense and make them react in some way.''
• On trading for Nazr Mohammed: "I knew he's a consistent guy, a great locker room guy, a great veteran, and he wasn't getting much time on Detroit's team ... Nazr's contract doesn't hurt us. We made a commitment, but it doesn't hurt us."
• On the open roster spot, after the 2-for-1 trade: "We don't want to make a deal just to make a deal because we have an empty space. If there's something out there that can add to this team, and it's economically worthwhile, we'll do it."