Michael Jordan doesn't blame Kobe Bryant for taking max salary

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In his 11-year stint with in the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan made approximately $90.2 million in salary from the team. Of that total income, roughly $24.9 million was earned over the first nine years, while another $63.2 million was made in the final two. 

Those figures place Jordan in a unique position to speak on Kobe Bryant's much-scrutinized deal — which paid out $48.5 million over two years — with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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The Charlotte Hornets owner, who spoke with a select group of national media on Wednesday, understands both sides of the coin at this juncture of his life.

As a former player, he knows basketball careers have a short life span. But as an owner, he understands what is necessary to run a functional business under the current collective-bargaining agreement. When discussing the salary cap and max contracts, Jordan did not pass judgment on Bryant for taking what was offered to him.

"Can I criticize him for maximizing his opportunity from a financial standpoint? No," Jordan said. "Does his decision have an affect on how the team will structure certain things? Maybe."

This is when Jordan showed he understands the seat in which both Bryant and Lakers ownership sit. While he knows Bryant might cripple the Lakers' opportunity to chase other players, he also is aware Bryant didn't twist anyone's arm for his new contract. The Lakers offered it. 

"But that's something the team didn't have to give to him," Jordan said. "They could easily give him a different scenario and Kobe could make his choice from that standpoint. It's easy to criticize where we sit, and you don't know all the dynamics of why or what the opportunities were for him. I'm not going to criticize him for taking advantage of the opportunity presented to him."