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Brazil president sacks close aide amid political scandal

BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday, February 18, sacked a close aide who helped get him elected after a storm within his party over suspected improper campaign financing. The allegations are the latest scandal to hit the party of the far-right president, who comfortably won elections last October ........»»

Source: Rappler RapplerCategory: News2 hr. 58 min. ago Related News

Designer spotlight: Jearson Demavivas

Jearson Demavivas is no stranger to the pageant world. Even before Miss Universe 2018 Catriona wore his outfits, the 29-year-old designer from South Cotabato already worked with Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2017 Elizabeth Clenci, who wore his national costume inspired by the T'boli tribe. Since then, his designs have been worn not ........»»

Source: Rappler RapplerCategory: News2 hr. 58 min. ago Related News

Marawi not a ‘ghost city’, Washington Post article ‘not true’ – task force head

MANILA, Philippines -- The Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) on Tuesday disputed a news article, claiming war-torn Marawi City remains a "ghost town" more than a year after the military dislodged Islamic State-inspired Maute group in the area. TFBM chairman Eduardo del Rosario asserted Marawi City is currently "alive and booming" and "full of economic activity" contrary to a Washington Post article published February 1, which stated "Marawi looks almost as it did when the bombs and bullets stopped flying in October 2017." The news article noted that no new structure has been built and debris has not been cleared in Marawi City since the war ended. Marawi City served as battle gro...Keep on reading: Marawi not a ‘ghost city’, Washington Post article ‘not true’ – task force head.....»»

Source: Inquirer InquirerCategory: 3 hr. 24 min. ago Related News

To take on Ronaldo, Atletico could unleash attacking trio

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid could unleash an attacking trio in an effort to finally outdo Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League. Atletico coach Diego Simeone will be able to call on Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata when his team hosts Juventus in the first leg of the last 16 on Wednesday, in what will be Ronaldo's first match in Madrid since leaving Real Madrid last year. Ronaldo faced Atletico four straight seasons in the Champions League while wearing Real Madrid's jersey, succeeding every time — in two finals (2014 and 2016), one quarterfinal (2015) and one semifinal (2017). He has scored 22 goals in 31 matches against Atletico in his career, including a hat trick in the first leg of the 2017 semifinals. Simeone, known for his great defensive squads, may look for his attack to try to neutralize Ronaldo this time. He used Griezmann, Costa and Morata together on Saturday in the team's 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish league. Griezmann and Morata started the match, and Costa — coming off a long injury layoff — entered in the second half. It was the first time Simeone could use all three players together, as Morata signed from Chelsea in the recent transfer window and Costa hadn't played in nearly two months because of a foot injury that required surgery. "I like it," Simeone said after seeing them against Vallecano. He will have all three players available again for Wednesday's first leg against Juventus at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, but he didn't say whether he will use them all from the start. "Obviously it takes time, it takes work, and an extraordinary physical condition from all three players," Simeone said. "Hopefully at some point we will give them more playing time together." Costa would likely be left off the team if Simeone doesn't go with the trio, considering he was sidelined for a long time. If Costa plays, he would take over the central striker position, with Morata moving to one of the sides, opposite Griezmann. "Costa allows Morata to play more freely, in a more comfortable position for him," Simeone said. "And Griezmann will remain an important player for us, taking advantage of every chance he has in front of him." Atletico was already playing with the three forwards when Morata set up Griezmann's winner on Saturday, although Morata was playing closer to the goal at the time, with Costa a bit further back. "Diego and Griezmann are two of the best forwards in the world, they have shown that already," said Morata, the former Real Madrid striker who joined Atletico after a disappointing stint with Chelsea. "It's easy to play with them, it's easy to adapt. I'm the last one to arrive, so I'm the one who has to adapt." Having all three available could be key for Atletico the rest of the season. In addition to the Champions League, Atletico remains in the title race for the Spanish league title, trailing leader Barcelona by seven points after 24 matches. This year's Champions League final will be held at Atletico's home stadium......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: Sports9 hr. 58 min. ago Related News

P6.4-billion shabu shipment middleman arraigned

A businessman, accused of being the middleman in the importation of P6.4-billion worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu from China in May 2017, yesterday pleaded not guilty to the charges against him before the Manila regional trial court......»»

Source: Philstar PhilstarCategory: News12 hr. 10 min. ago Related News

Duterte vetoes overgenerous general tax amnesty

MANILA, Philippines – The Tax Amnesty Act  or Republic Act No. 11213 was signed into law, but its most crucial part is missing – the provision granting relief to people who failed to pay correct taxes in 2017 and earlier. Duterte took out sections 10 and ........»»

Source: Rappler RapplerCategory: News14 hr. 58 min. ago Related News

PENRO AKLAN Awards Php4M to 25 people’s orgs

THE Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Aklan recently awarded P4,098,000 to 25 People’s Organization (POs) in the province for the maintenance and protection of their respective National Greening Program (NGP) plantations. The goal of their respective contracts is to maintain and protect the 1,674 hectares of NGP plantations established in 2017, which […] The post PENRO AKLAN Awards Php4M to 25 people’s orgs appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Source: Thedailyguardian ThedailyguardianCategory: News15 hr. 37 min. ago Related News

‘Supergirl’ costars get engaged

  Melissa Benoist, star of the DC Comics series "Supergirl," said "yes" to her boyfriend and costar, Chris Wood. The two have been dating since 2017.   On Instagram, Benoist posted a photo of themselves, with her engagement ring on display, and wrote, "Yes, yes, yes. It's always yes." On Wood's page, the actor posted the same picture, and said, "The happiest."   Benoist continues to play the Kryptonian superheroine for a fourth season. Wood first appeared in the second season as recurring character Mon-El, a Daxamite, also a powerful alien. The two heroes are some of the most powerful characters in the DC comic books.   The actors are both 30....Keep on reading: ‘Supergirl’ costars get engaged.....»»

Source: Inquirer InquirerCategory: 16 hr. 58 min. ago Related News

Kenneth Dong, alleged middleman in P6.4-B shabu case, enters not guilty plea

Kenneth Dong, alleged middleman in the 2017 P6.4-billion shabu case, pleaded not guilty to the government’s drug importation charge against him......»»

Source: Philstar PhilstarCategory: NewsFeb 18th, 2019Related News

Top U.S. official discussed Trump removal in 2017, says ex-FBI chief

WASHINGTON, USA – The US deputy attorney general discussed how many cabinet members would support removing US President Donald Trump from office in 2017, the FBI's former acting director said in an interview airing Sunday, February 17. Andrew McCabe said invoking the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution was raised by ........»»

Source: Rappler RapplerCategory: NewsFeb 18th, 2019Related News

Des Cheng turns up intensity, sparks La Salle win over Ateneo

MANILA, Philippines---Any matchup between Ateneo and De La Salle in the UAAP is always sure to turn the intensity and ante up a notch. What started out as a rivalry in basketball, the rivalry has also spilled to other sports none more so than volleyball with the Lady Eagles and the Lady Spikers meeting in the title round for six straight years from 2012 to 2017. Ateneo may have failed to enter the title round in 2018, but the matchup between the Lady Eagles and La Salle always bring out a few memories here and there and that was what happened when the two teams met Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena. Defending champion De La Salle trumped the Lady Eagles in four sets, 25-14, 25-17...Keep on reading: Des Cheng turns up intensity, sparks La Salle win over Ateneo.....»»

Source: Inquirer InquirerCategory: Feb 18th, 2019Related News

PBA: Helterbrand gets triple-double in Manila Clasico Legends win

The Fast hasn’t lost a step. Jayjay Helterbrand led Ginebra to yet another Manila Clasico win as the Gin Kings got one over Purefoods Sunday, 97-89, in the PBA Legends Return of the Rivals game at the Big Dome. Helterbrand, who retired in 2017, messed around and finished with a triple-double, going for 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. The Fast also had four steals for good measure.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsFeb 17th, 2019Related News

UAAP Season 81: Siguro nasa 60% ang galaw kanina -- De Jesus on rookie Dela Cruz

Rookie Jolina Dela Cruz announced her arrival as part of the defending three-time champion De La Salle University with an impressive debut against the Lady Spikers’ archrival Ateneo de Manila University. The 19-year old, Bulacan-native poured in 11 points in DLSU’s 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19, win over the Lady Eagles in an early battle of titans in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament Sunday at the MOA Arena. It was a good outing for a player whose baptism of fire came in the most anticipated match of the season – the first opening day Ateneo-DLSU clash in the Final Four era.     But head coach Ramil De Jesus said that Dela Cruz has yet to show her full potential.   “Well, as rookie siguro nasa 60% ang galaw kanina. Expected ko na ‘yun kasi bago sa kanya ang lahat ng nangyayari. And siguro ‘yung dami ng crowd, tapos ang ingay ng crowd,” said De Jesus of the Palarong Pambansa standout.   “Sabi ko nga kanina after ng second set, ‘Jolina, sobrang confused mo na kasi ang likot na ng mata mo.’ So ni-remind ko lang na kailangan ko lang ng makakatulong sa loob. Kailangan ko ng tulong mo,” the 11-time champion mentor added. “Ganoon talaga sa first game siguro sa susunod hindi na ganoon.”             The Academia de San Lorenzo recruit and member of the Philippine youth team in the 2017 ASEAN Schools Game in Singapore admitted that her first Ateneo-DLSU experience was quite overwhelming.   “As a rookie bago lang po ako sa ganito and ‘yun po nire-remind ako lagi ng mga ates na kahit anong mangyari nandyan sila sa likod may backup ako,” she said. Dela Cruz added that there were times that she just got carried away with the crowd and energy inside the arena.   “Opo, masyado po akong nadala. Nire-remind naman po nila ako parati na, ‘Jolina balik ka, balik ka. Kaya mo yan. Nandyan ang mga ates mo. Di ka naman nila iiawanan. Iko-cover ka nila kahit anong mangyari.’ Yung mga coaches naman lagi akong nire-remind na focus ka, focus, na balik ka lagi. Once na magkamali ka may ibang way pa na pwede kang gawin,” said Dela Cruz.   Asked on how she would address the missing 40% that De Jesus wanted to see for her, Dela Cruz answered,  “Siguro kailangan pa magtiwala sa sarili ang kailangan balik ka kaagad once nagkamali ka.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsFeb 17th, 2019Related News

PBA: Helterbrand after masterful trip-dub: “I need an ice bath”

Jayjay Helterbrand never lost a step. Playing his first organized game of basketball since his 2017 retirement, the man they call the Fast dazzled Sunday during the PBA Legends Return of the Rivals at the Big Dome. Helterbrand led Brgy. Ginebra to a Manila Clasico win over Purefoods, putting up a 21-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist triple-double. Yep, still got it. “Oh man, it feels good. It’s really an honor to be able to play on the court with all the legends man. Just the stories I’ve heard in practice, getting a chance to be coached by the legend himself and be able to play for a good cause, that was fun,” Helterbrand said of the whole experience. “I was in awe trying to absorb everything. I didn’t really plan on playing that hard, but I didn’t want to let them down. I came out there and I wanted to get that win for them,” he added. Helterbrand’s masterful performance naturally comes with talks that he should have never retired in the first place. But the 42-year-old insists he’s done and he’s not coming back. Sorry, Ginebra fans. “I don’t think so, that was just for fun. Na-ano lang ako sa energy, and I didn’t want to let the team down,” Helterbrand said. “I think I pushed myself a little bit over the limit, ang sakit na ng katawan ko. I need an ice bath now,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsFeb 17th, 2019Related News

Helterbrand puts up triple-double as Ginebra trounces Purefoods

MANILA, Philippines – Jayjay Helterbrand turned the Return of the Rivals into his own show after submitting a triple-double in Barangay Ginebra's 97-89 win over Purefoods at the jampacked Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, February 17. Hanging up his spurs in 2017, the 42-year-old proved there is plenty of game left ........»»

Source: Rappler RapplerCategory: NewsFeb 17th, 2019Related News

Duterte vetoes provision in new law for general tax amnesty

The much-awaited amnesty for taxpayers who failed to pay correct dues in 2017 and prior years will not happen in April, as President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the provision in a new law pending the lifting of bank secrecy rules for tax purposes. Nonetheless, the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019 (Republic Act No. 11213), which the President signed last Feb. 14, kept the provisions on estate tax amnesty and amnesty on delinquent taxes, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a Viber message to finance beat reporters. "The President was constrained to veto the portion of the law covering the general amnesty because of the lack of provisions breaking the walls of bank secrecy, settin...Keep on reading: Duterte vetoes provision in new law for general tax amnesty.....»»

Source: Inquirer InquirerCategory: Feb 17th, 2019Related News

Kyline can’t choose between acting and singing

Teen singer-actress Kyline Alcantara hopes to explore the opportunities coming her way, whether they're singing engagements or acting roles. But choosing between the two, she admits, puts her in a quandary. "I can't choose---I've loved doing both since I was a kid," the 16-year-old performer tells the Inquirer. Regardless, it continues to be a show biz career rife with possibilities for Kyline, who had a supporting role in ABS-CBN's "Annaliza" drama series in 2013. As a teenager who's been appearing in GMA shows since 2017, she shares that honing her talents---in both singing and acting---takes time, but she appreciates the results. "I have learned to be more disciplined and...Keep on reading: Kyline can’t choose between acting and singing.....»»

Source: Inquirer InquirerCategory: Feb 17th, 2019Related News

Benedict Cumberbatch to play Satan in ‘Good Omens’

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch has joined the cast of "Good Omens", a fantasy series to be released on May 31 on Amazon Prime Video, as announced by the platform at its TCA press briefing. The star of "Sherlock" and "Doctor Strange" will be working with Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm and Frances McDormand on the series which is inspired by a novel by its showrunner and writer, Neil Gaiman. It's been a wait of almost two years for "Good Omens", the new series from Neil Gaiman and Amazon Prime Video. First announced in August 2017, it finally has a launch date of May 31, and its lineup has been completed now with Cumberbatch. He will provide the voice for a giant animate...Keep on reading: Benedict Cumberbatch to play Satan in ‘Good Omens’.....»»

Source: Inquirer InquirerCategory: Feb 17th, 2019Related News

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. 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