Professional sports is a cut-throat world, right?
Not always, at least when Eddie Jordan is involved. Real estate mogul Finn Wentworth shared a story about Jordan, who recently became the head coach for the Rutgers men’s basketball team.
Wentworth, the former president of YankeesNets LLC, worked with Jordan when he was an assistant coach of the Nets. When Don Casey was the head coach of the Nets, the ownership considered replacing him during the season. Wentworth approached Jordan about becoming the head coach, and Jordan replied, “I can’t do that to Don Casey. He brought me here,” according to Wentworth.
Wentworth said that conversation forever cemented in his mind that Jordan was a gentleman and trustworthy professional. “He didn’t want to be disloyal,” Wentworth recalled. “I just said, ‘Wow, there is goodness and loyalty.’”
Wentworth then had to tell his fellow owners, George Steinbrenner and Ray Chambers. “They couldn’t believe anybody did that,” said Wentworth, noting a head coaching job is one of the most coveted gigs in professional sports. Steinbrenner thought Jordan wanted more money, while Chambers looked at it from a humanitarian standpoint, being impressed with Jordan’s loyalty, according to Wentworth.
The owners waited, and Jordan later became an NBA head coach, after helping leading the Nets to two NBA finals as an assistant coach.
Wentworth said Jordan is the perfect pick for Rutgers after the national scandal caused by former coach Mike Rice’s sideline screaming and aggressive tactics with players. Wentworth noted a former Nets head coach, John Calipari, was “kind of like Rice, but in the NBA.” He said about Jordan, “He was like the anti-Calipari in the NBA, and he’s like the anti-Rice in the NCAA.”
Who says nice guys finish last?