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Michael Jordan Loves Steak

Hornets general manager Rich Cho talks about his food blog, Dwight Howard, and His Airness’s eating habits

Screenshot of ‘Bigtime Bites’ blog Screenshot of ‘Bigtime Bites’ blog

Rich Cho has a lot to manage in the basketball world; he’s been the GM of the Charlotte Hornets since 2011. But recently, he decided to heap some more work onto his plate. Cho started Bigtime Bites, a food blog where he and site visitors can share reviews of restaurant dishes that they enjoyed in the form of “scouting reports.” On the most recent episode of House of Carbs, Cho talked with Joe House about his site, and some basketball-related topics, too.

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Joe House: My beloved basketball team and the Hornets are not only in the same Eastern Conference but in the same division, so I promise to be gentle and polite about this and I’m gonna walk in with what I hope is a softball, if you don’t mind. What is your understanding of Michael Jordan’s current favorite food?

Rich Cho: You know, he’s a big steak guy.

House: He has that reputation, and I wondered if you have been able to expand MJ’s palate any.

Cho: No. [laughs]

House: Have you made the pitch to them? Have you said, “Come on, MJ, come try this place with me or that place?” Have you pitched him?

Cho: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, he likes to stick to his go-tos, which are steak, some pasta here and there. But he ... I don't think he would be a good candidate for a different hole-in-the wall that you and I would go to.

House: I do want to talk for a hot second about the upcoming basketball season because with the migration of a handful of players from the East to the West, the East feels as wide open as maybe it’s ever felt, notwithstanding the conventional kind of wisdom around the top four. There’s been Cleveland and Boston and Toronto and Washington over the last handful of years, and Atlanta's kind of bumped up and bumped down over that period as well, but as this season comes along, we have teams like Charlotte and Milwaukee and Miami that are all looking like they could crack into that top four. The one thing I was really interested in, and what you guys did in the offseason obviously was the acquisition of Dwight, and I know the need that he fills for you, I'll let you tell folks the need that you think he fills, but in addition to the role that you're hoping he'll play, my question is, can Steve Clifford be the Dwight whisperer?

Cho: Yeah, I think so. He and his staff, they do a great job of getting the most out of each and every player, and some of the guys that have come here having off years in the past before coming here, like Jeremy Lin, they did a great job with Jeremy, and got the most out of him. But [Clifford] and Dwight are close, and he’s obviously worked with him before so we're looking for Dwight to have a really good year for us. He’s averaged a double-double every year in the league, and I'm hoping that that keeps moving forward that way. But when we entered the offseason, one of the things that we were really trying to address was some rim protection and shot-blocking and some physicality, so Dwight brings all those to the table. And the other big thing that we’re trying to address was our overall depth. And he also addresses that, and he and Cody Zeller would be a nice one-two punch at the center spot.

House: I will tell you, watching the—you know, the Wizards played Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs this past season, and I was terrified of Dwight. Because he could have dominated Marcin Gortat. I mean, his athleticism even at this stage of his career, and his physicality. I don’t know what the explanation is for why it didn’t come to pass. I mean, it looked like there were mixed messages going on with that Atlanta team, and I’m not asking you to make an observation one way or the other. I’m just telling you, I was deathly afraid of Dwight getting motivated and going out there and kicking some ass. And I was so impressed by what I saw that I even allowed the possibility of hoping that my team might take a run at Dwight this offseason, so I was a little disappointed when I saw that you stepped in there.

Cho: Yeah, you know, we were lucky to get him. I think from the standpoint of we thought—everyone thought he would be a good fit there, just going back home to Atlanta, and you know, it didn't work out. They were looking to kind of make a reboot a little bit with a new GM, and luckily we got a deal done, and we're really happy to have him as part of our team.

House: Yeah, of course. It makes perfect sense. So I have a request for you. I have two requests. One is, I would love for you to come back on, because both of us are still in the infancy of our food enterprises, and so I know that over the course of this NBA season, we're going to connect, we're gonna have some delicious food together, we'll see each other, so you have to come back on the show. That's my number-one request. … But secondly, I would love to be an honorary scout. I need some guidance though, I'm not very good at the food pictures so far. So I need some of your professional—I need some mentorship, Rich Cho.

Cho: [laughs] No, we definitely gotta hook up for some food. I have this food light, and I’ll get you a food light and send it to you if you give me your address. Along with some Bigtime Bites gear. But uh, that might help you get some good pictures, too.

House: I love it, I love it. So look, the next time … one of the things I’ve been asking guests that come on is to share with us their last meal on earth. Now, I don’t think it’s fair to ask you right out of the box, you know. I've been on [http://bigtimebites.com] and there are probably, what, 120 dishes on there by now?

Cho: There's—yeah, well, we’ve got [469] scouting reports now, on close to 400 restaurants. And we’ve got [270] scouts signed up so far.

House: Oh my gosh, incredible. I should have asked! I tried to look at the Instagram and quickly come to an idea of how many. ... Those are outstanding numbers. So you’ll have a lot to choose from. I want to give you plenty of lead time to think about your last meal on earth. You know, four or five things that you might—or actually, maybe it would just be one thing. It's your last meal, so you get to choose it.

Cho: Yeah, sounds good. I'll have something for you next time.