Michael Jordan Steps Down From Very Important Presidents Cup Assistant Captain Duties
By Stephanie Wei under Presidents Cup

MJ: Sorry, Freddie, I gotta bail.

Oh noes! — former NBA superstar, freeloader, lover of money games and playing mind games with Sean O’Hair Michael Jordan had to resign from team mascot assistant captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup. Because of that pesky NBA lockout, MJ, a majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, might have to vote or attend important meetings.

Captain Fred Couples has named current Champions Tour player John Cook, one of Tiger’s former Isleworth BFFs, to replace Jordan. Which makes sense since he’s actually a pro golfer that can bring more to the lockerroom than setting up money games (it was no secret that at the ’09 Prez Cup Jordan was taking Sean O’Hair’s money). But who’s going to give the Americans fiery pep talks. Or stir up controversy?!?

Here’s the media blast:

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida – United States Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples announced today that 11-time PGA TOUR winner John Cook has been named Captain’s Assistant for the upcoming Presidents Cup matches. Michael Jordan, who was named along with Jay Haas as a Captain’s Assistant for The Presidents Cup 2011, will be unable to attend the matches due to pending responsibilities as majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

Cook will join Haas as a Captain’s Assistant for the matches, to be played November 15-20, 2011, at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Cook will be participating in the Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney the week prior to The Presidents Cup.

“John has been a friend of mine since we broke in together on the PGA TOUR in the early 1980s,” said Couples, playing this week at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. “Having achieved success at the highest levels in the golf world, I value his opinion greatly. Both John and Jay will provide tremendous support for myself and the United States Team in the upcoming matches at Royal Melbourne.”

Cook won 11 times in his PGA TOUR career, including a 1992 season that included three wins and a runner-up at the British Open. Cook has eight career victories on the Champions Tour, including three in 2011. He enters this week’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship fourth in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup. Cook also made one start on the PGA TOUR in 2011, finishing third at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

“I’m thrilled that Freddie has asked me to serve as a Captain’s Assistant for the United States Presidents Cup Team,” said Cook. “Jay has told me on several occasions that his 2009 Presidents Cup experience was one of his career highlights, and that meant a lot to me in making my decision. I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping the team retain the Cup.”

Jordan previously served as an Honorary Captain’s Assistant to Couples at The Presidents Cup 2009 at TPC Harding Park. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and owns six NBA Championship titles with the Chicago Bulls, five MVP awards, six NBA Finals MVP awards and numerous NBA scoring records. In 2010, Jordan became the first former NBA player to become a majority owner of an NBA franchise with his acquisition of the Charlotte Bobcats.

“After careful consideration, it is with regret that I have decided to cancel my trip to Australia later this month for The Presidents Cup,” said Jordan.  “With the NBA labor situation unsettled, as the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, I feel it is necessary that I remain in the country.  It was an honor to have been chosen by Fred Couples to serve as a Captain’s Assistant.  I wish Fred and the United States Team the best of luck.”

“I would like to thank Michael for his significant contributions, both as a Captain’s Assistant and his role as ambassador for The Presidents Cup,” said Couples. “While the team will miss his friendship, spirit and leadership, we certainly understand the complexity of his current team obligations.”

Despite my sarcasm about MJ as an assistant captain (well, former now), I was disappointed to hear that Jordan won’t be going. I don’t have a problem with him supposedly giving inspiring lockerroom speeches or even just chilling and smoking cigars — it’d be cool to have him around. Besides, the Presidents Cup is just an exhibition event (but it actually might get interesting with all the catfights and controversy of Couples picking Tiger and leaving Keegan Bradley off the team). Different story if this were the Ryder Cup, but that would never happen.

Anyway, it makes sense for Jordan to sit this one out and actually it’s responsible of him to skip a sweet trip to Australia. If there were a crucial vote that might actually end the lockout, I don’t think it’d fly with NBA Commish David Stern that MJ was chilling as a mascot and providing inspiration to the U.S. Team on the other side of the world.

(By the way, I need to look into this, but I feel like Tiger and MJ, his former Vegas enabler, haven’t spoken since that unfortunate fire hydrant accident. Or maybe he’s just shut out Charles Barkley.)

(Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)