Jordan to sell majority stake in NBA's Charlotte Hornets

Team says an investment consortium is the new buyer, but basketball great will retain minority stake

AFP June 17, 2023


Basketball legend Michael Jordan has agreed to sell his majority stake in the NBA's Charlotte Hornets to an investment consortium, the team announced Friday.

The buyer group is led by Gabe Plotkin, chief investment officer at Tallwoods Capital LLC, and Rick Schnall, co-president of private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

The group also includes musicians J Cole and Eric Church, said a press release from Hornets Sports & Entertainment that did not disclose financial terms.

Jordan will retain a minority stake in the franchise, the team said. The transaction is subject to NBA approval.

Jordan acquired a controlling investment in the Hornets in 2010 for $275 million. The franchise has been the league's sole team with Black-majority ownership.

Under the terms of the deal, the Hornets as a whole were valued at $3 billion, according to the New York Times. Other outlets have valued the Hornets at closer to $1.7 billion. It was not clear how much of Jordan's initial stake he would retain.

Often considered the greatest-ever basketball player, Jordan led teams to six NBA titles, won the league's Most Valuable Player award five times and garnered two Olympic gold medals. He played his last game professionally in 2003.

However, Jordan's tenure as the only Black owner of an NBA team has been less successful.

During his 13-year reign, Charlotte reached the playoffs just three times, losing in the first round on all three occasions.

Last season, Charlotte finished one place off the bottom of the Eastern Conference at 27-55.

Rumors of Jordan's interest in selling his stake have circulated for several weeks.

Speaking on the eve of the NBA Finals last month, league commissioner Adam Silver said Jordan had "the absolute right to sell", but admitted he hoped to see more Black team owners in future.

"I would love to have better representation in terms of principal governors," Silver said. "It's a marketplace. It's something that if we were expanding that the league would be in a position to focus directly on that, but in individual team transactions, the market takes us where we are.

"I will say I know that increasingly our governors are focused on diversity in their ownership groups just as they are in their front office, so the trend lines have been positive over the last several years."

News of Jordan's decision to sell up went largely unlamented by commentators in Charlotte.

Charlotte Observer sports columnist Scott Fowler said that Jordan's departure marked the "end of an era" as the NBA's only Black majority owner of a team.

"But he failed as the Hornets owner in the way he would consider most important: he never turned Charlotte into a winner," Fowler wrote on Friday.

"Jordan's reign as Charlotte's most famous sports owner ever was ultimately a PR success but an on-court failure."

The Hornets sale marks the third change of franchise ownership in the NBA in the past year and coincides with a period in which team values are believed to have skyrocketed.

The Phoenix Suns were taken over in December by a consortium led by billionaire Mat Ishbia while the Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry sold his 25% stake in the club to Jimmy and Dee Haslam, the owners of the Cleveland Browns NFL team.

According to Forbes, Jordan has a net worth of around $2 billion, with around $1.8 billion of his career earnings coming from deals with corporate partners such as Nike, Hanes and Gatorade.

The origin of Jordan's lucrative partnership with Nike was chronicled earlier this year in the film "Air," which was directed by Ben Affleck.


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