CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Rod Higgins climbed onto the podium for his first pre-draft news conference since becoming general manager of the Charlotte Bobcats wearing a golf shirt with a Michael Jordan Nike jumpman logo.
Higgins isn't alone in his affinity for the NBA great.
Jordan, who became a part-owner of the Bobcats last year, has loaded up the front office with longtime friends, confidants and ex-teammates. He'll lean on his loyal crew Thursday, a night that will help shape the future of the struggling franchise.
Jordan will oversee his second draft in Charlotte. He has the final say on all basketball moves and will decide whether to keep the eighth and 22nd picks, or trade one or both selections for veteran players.
``Our responsibility is to go to Michael and say, 'Here's the due diligence that we've done. Here's what we recommend,''' vice president of basketball operations Bernie Bickerstaff said.
Bickerstaff, who stepped down as coach and general manager after the season, is Jordan's top aide. Higgins was assistant GM in Washington when Jordan ran the Wizards, and was hired away from Golden State last month.
Buzz Peterson, Jordan's former college roommate, became director of player personnel, and new coach Sam Vincent played with Jordan in Chicago.
Bickerstaff said Jordan hasn't attended all the pre-draft workouts but is putting in the hours.
``You know what the most amazing thing about this guy is, his retention ability, his ability to take information, absorb it and retain it,'' Bickerstaff said. ``So he's completely involved. It's not laissez faire.''
Bickerstaff said he has been fielding numerous trade offers from teams looking to move up in the draft, or unload high-salary players because of the Bobcats' wealth of salary-cap space.
``If they make the decision that we can move a couple of those picks to get a veteran player that's going to come in and really help the team, I think that would be great,'' Vincent said Wednesday, ``versus bringing in a rookie that's got to get up to speed, learn the league.''
A sense of urgency stems from Charlotte's apathy toward the Bobcats. Still stung over the Hornets' move to New Orleans five years ago, the team has struggled to sell tickets and lure advertisers.
Jordan's first move with the Bobcats was drafting Adam Morrison No. 3 overall last year, and it didn't create a wave of fan interest. This draft, and whether the Bobcats can re-sign top scorer and fan favorite Gerald Wallace, will go a long way in determining whether the Bobcats can win over fans and make the playoffs next season.
``We're going to go through the process of speaking to teams, trade opportunities, move up, move down, all the way up to the final hour when we have to make that selection,'' Vincent said.

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