There are many angles and ramifications in Michael Jordan’s decision to sell his majority ownership in the Charlotte Hornets.
It was announced last Friday that Jordan was finalizing a deal to sell the majority share to a group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall.
From a strictly monetary aspect, the deal is a huge success for Jordan. If the reported sale price of $3 billion is accurate, it is more than twice the value of the team estimated by Forbes. It is also more than 20 times what Jordan paid former owner Robert Johnson when he purchased the then Bobcats 13 years ago.
Jordan had already sold a portion of the team to an investment group headed by Plotkin and Daniel Sundheim in 2019, but he retained majority interest at that time.
Others in the new ownership group include musical performers J. Cole and Eric Church.
From a strictly basketball standpoint, Jordan’s tenure as an owner has been at best uneventful. They have had a winning record only three times in 13 years, and a variety of coaches have been unable to achieve either consistent success or been able to create a popular style of play. The Hornets still languish in the bottom tier of the NBA in attendance and have missed even the play-in games, let alone the playoffs, most years.
But Jordan does leave behind some assets, namely players LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, though Bridges will begin the new season serving a 30 game suspension for pleading guilty to felony domestic assault. The team also has five picks in the upcoming NBA draft June 22, all in the top 41. They can choose to either package some of them to get a quality veteran or use them and hope current coach Steve Clifford (assuming he isn’t canned by the new ownership group) can turn a youthful squad into at minimum a competitive unit.
But the larger issue resulting from the Jordan sale is there will now be NO majority Black ownership in a 75 pet cent Black league.
The NBA is hardly unique in that fashion. The NFL and MLB are in the same boat. For anyone criticizing Jordan for the sale, it’s tough telling anyone they should refuse to accept $3 billion for a team they purchased for $180 million. Whatever else anyone says about Jordan and what he did or didn’t do with the Hornets, they are a profitable enterprise with plenty of growth potential.
Jordan remains among the nation’s richest citizens. His estimated wealth was already at $2 billion before the deal. His empire includes a host of endorsements and partial ownerships, and who knows what his next move will be.
But for now, majority Black ownership in any of the major American team sports does not exist.