Loganity: Michael Jordan in NASCAR Is Anything But a Slam-Dunk

        

(Photo Source : Twitter.com/SportsCenter)

        Last week it was officially announced that Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin would be buying the charter from Germain Racing and that Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr would be driving for the new team next season. It’s a move that puts an end to only some of the speculation that has run rampant in this unprecedented silly season. There had been rumors cropping up the past few months that this could happen, but, I must admit that until Wallace announced that he would be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season I didn’t give much credence to those rumors. Now that it’s official there’s been plenty of speculation what kind of success the trio will have. It’s exciting news for NASCAR, and you simply can’t overstate what kind of positive impact Michael Jordan and all that comes with him could have on the world of NASCAR. Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player ever, but more importantly for NASCAR his brand something that attracts unprecedented attention. His brand may be more iconic than any other, commercials, endorsements, movies. Michael Jordan is money. This could be a match made in heaven. Notice the phrase “could be”


When it comes to a momentous moment like this, it’s easy to get caught up on it, the possibilities, the best-case scenario. It’s easy to just view Michael Jordan as an iconic individual who can’t fail. It’s so easy to set expectations far too high, especially in the first year or two of something fresh like this. One of the most underrated aspects of this entire deal is the kind factory support Toyota is sure to give this car. They will be doing whatever they can to make this a success. I said on last week’s Racing Refresh that part of the reason that Toyota and NASCAR would be doing so much to try and make sure this experiment is a success is because of the fact Bubba Wallace is the most relevant NASCAR driver in terms of pop culture ever. When AJ Appeal pressed me and said that title belongs to Dale Earnhardt Sr, or perhaps his son I clarified that relevance isn’t always popular. Bubba Wallace is, in a word, polarizing. He’s attracted new eyes and driven away old ones. If you get caught up in the NASCAR bubble it would be easy to believe he’s only hurting the sport’s popularity, but if you look further and see all the personal sponsorship he’s gained and how often he’s a guest on The Today Show you’ll see he’s getting the attention that certainly at least rivals the Earnhardt family. The only thing missing is the on-track success. His detractors seem to only look at his cup results. Never seeming to factor that he drives for Richard Petty Motorsports. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger RPM fan than me among the Racing Refresh crew, but, there’s simply no denying their funding issues. Wallace won with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the truck series 6 times. He also has 35  top tens to his credit in the Xfinity series. Those numbers aren’t staggering but it’s explanation enough to know RPM’s issues have no doubt played a role in his results. What’s my point?  Wallace isn’t my biggest question mark, it’s the ownership side.

Michael Jordan has controlled the basketball operations of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets since 2006 and how has he done?  Well here’s a few things to know  Since he took over control of the team  The Hornets have only finished with a winning record 3 times and has never finished higher than second in their division. Under Jordan, the Hornets have never advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Overall The Hornets have a 464-651 record since Jordan took over the helm. That’s a .416 winning percentage. He was the man in charge of Charlotte when the team finished 7-59 in 2011-12. That would go down as the worst record in NBA history. When you’re that bad for that long, it’s not just bad luck or a longer than expected rebuild it points to serious mistakes in judgment and seemingly not correcting them. This all has happened while he has operated a team in the sport he knows best. How will he do an entirely different world?

There have been cross-over success stories. The biggest one being Joe Gibbs. Gibbs started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992. As an owner, he’s a 5-time cup series champion and a two time Xfinity Series champion. His team is arguably considered the best way to have success in the current NASCAR environment. The biggest fly in the ointment with this situation is due to Denny Hamlin’s co-ownership with Micharl Jordan. Hamlin is currently under contract as a driver with none other than Coach Joe Gibbs. This leads to an easy assumption that Wallace’s car will have a Gibbs alliance. On paper that points to on-track success and it very well could, but for how long? Previous alliances haven’t lasted. Furniture Row Racing shut down only a year after winning a championship. Levine Family Racing is shutting down at the end of the 2020 season. Spire Motorsports purchased the assets and will be expanding to a two-car team next season.  They were both Gibbs affiliated teams.

Another added wrinkle is the next-gen car coming in 2022. Is Michael Jordan and company prepared to shell out the massive amount of funds it’s going to take to be competitive in the coming years? Based on Jordan’s history as an owner, I don’t have that answer. Is he prepared to take the lumps that will come from the NASCAR fan base? In basketball, Jordan is revered and rightly so.  NASCAR is a different world. Bubba Wallace is getting heavily booed at almost every track that allows fans. Jordan has always walked a tight-rope when it comes to political and social issues in our country. Is he ready to face the push back that could come with him having Wallace as his driver? You may say none of that matters and truly you’d be correct, but, Michael Jordan has always cared about his image, and he has done his best to quell any talk that Lebron James may have surpassed him as the greatest basketball player ever. Look no further than him agreeing to do The Last Dance documentary, it reaffirmed and convinced many that Jordan was better than James. That was one of the reported reasons Jordan agreed to do it in the first place. I believe that next season should be a wash for this team. I think they could compete for a win or two in 2021 depending on just how much funding and sponsorship the team and Wallace have when the dust settles with RPM at the end of the season. 

        Michael Jordan is an icon, who has built an empire. However, that empire was built on his unprecedented success as a basketball player. He has struggled mightily as an owner and you have to wonder how he’ll split his time between NASCAR and the NBA and if he can’t do one effectively full-time, how will he do both? We all know Michael Jordan loves to gamble, this may be his greatest gamble ever. If you’re a fan of this trio coming together your goal shouldn’t be championships anytime soon, your only goal should be survival.

It’s not insanity... It’s Loganity.