As a PAL little league coach in the 80’s, I was amazed at how many of our players (my son included, who is now 27, married and a father), were such big fans of Hall of Fame Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan - especially making it a point to discuss the amount of money he and other NBA all-stars were paid playing a game. One of our favorite discussion points was this: "if you thought Jordan and his peers made a lot of money, how much money do you think the team owner makes?"
On March 17th, the man with the greatest resume in the history of the NBA became the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. The investment, a $275 million dollar bid, gives Jordan a controlling interest in the companies that operate the Charlotte Bobcats and Time Warner Cable Arena, located in the uptown section of Charlotte, North Carolina. Jordan is the first former player, and the second African-American, to become the majority owner of an NBA team. The previous owner, Robert L. Johnson, who bought the expansion franchise in 2004 for $300 million, transferred control of the franchise to Jordan after a six-year tenure as the majority owner of the league’s 30th franchise. In addition to bringing the NBA back to Charlotte (previously they had moved to New Orleans), Johnson oversaw the team’s move into the new uptown arena in 2005. Johnson has lost tens of millions of dollars and the team is reportedly expected to lose another $30 million this season. Jordan is said to take on at least $150 million in debt, as well as provide a much-needed infusion of cash. Even with a winning record and playing in the NBA’s newest facilities, the Bobcats are just 22nd in average attendance of 15,613.
“If you asked me five to ten years ago if I would be here with the opportunity to own a basketball team, I would have never believed it,” said Jordan. “But yet it is a dream come true. Without, obviously, the people that have been involved, my friends, beginning with Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins, who has been very helpful on the basketball side, and Bobcats President Fred Whitfield, who I think has done an unbelievable job on the business side, has allowed me to come in, and now, with the team, build the best entertainment aspect for the City of Charlotte.”
Another exciting aspect to Jordan’s new involvement with the Bobcats is that he will bring his Nike, Hanes, Mc Donald’s, Coke, Gatorade, and Wheaties contracts into the mix in Charlotte. Since joining the league in 2004-05, the Bobcats had never finished with a winning record, but all of that is about to change. The Bobcats are on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time in the history of the franchise, and they have a good chance to move into the second round.
Much like the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States, the appointment of Jordan as majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcat franchise will help to encourage and inspire thousands of African-American youth to realize that with hard word, discipline, a plan, and deep pockets, they too can obtain their goals. “Hopefully", said Jordan, "I’ve paved the road for other players to be owners somewhere down the road.”
Clyde R. Davis is the Co-Founder of Fathers and Sons
Photo Credit: NBAE/Fathers and Sons