Jordan & the Bobcats: How Will He Fare?

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When the news broke that there was a prospective buyer for the Charlotte Bobcats in early January, it appeared that Michael Jordan’s time as owner of the team was about to run out.

But, just as his days as a player, Jordan came through in the clutch.

After assembling a group of investors and arranging to buy the team, Michael Jordan has fully committed himself to being the full owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, buying the team from Bob Johnson (whom the team is “named” for). The NBA owners are expected to approve Jordan’s ownership by late March. As the ‘Cats look toward their first playoff berth in the six seasons in the NBA, and are just a few wins away from breaking their franchise record for victories (35), MJ has his work cut out for him.

The city of Charlotte has been burned by bad ownership. Hornets owner George Shinn demanded a new arena, and after a sexual assault charge and alienating the city, and a failed referendum for a new arena, Shinn picked up and moved the Hornets to New Orleans in 2002. In fact, Shinn was in negotiations with Michael Jordan for ownership of the Hornets, but would not relinquish basketball operations to Jordan, and that caused Jordan to back out of the agreement. The Hornets could have still been in Charlotte had Shinn gave MJ that power.

Two years later, Bob Johnson, the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, paid the $300M price tag for the new Charlotte team, enabling him to become the first black majority owner in sports. However, Johnson never was involved in the city of Charlotte, and was virtually an absentee owner. To make it as a owner in a city that has been (and still is) jaded by the NBA is not the best way to be successful. Despite the improvement and the hard play of the Bobcats in their franchise history, Johnson was an absentee owner, and now that Jordan, who was just as much absent as Johnson, can not make the same mistakes now that it is his money.

So far, things are looking on the bright side.

Jordan has attended four Bobcats home games this season, and Charlotte is 3-1 in those games, they are currently 7th in the Eastern Conference, and are at .500 at the latest point in the season in their six years of existence. Jordan is so far simply showing he wants to take this venture seriously by just showing up. The second part of this is embracing the local Charlotte media. We do know that MJ is not (and always hasn’t been) media accessible, but in this role, and a market like Charlotte, he needs to be present, and expand the team’s presence past the Charlotte area and into the state of North Carolina (and South Carolina). Some fans have called for a name change from Bobcats, and it will be up to Jordan for that change.

Finally, Jordan will need to try to lure the top NBA talent to Charlotte and make right decisions for a winner. Will he spend to get a winner, or will he be thrifty with his money? He did have a few bad decisions while being here (drafting Adam Morrison), but he has made good decisions (picking up Stephen Jackson from the Golden State Warriors and Tyrus Thomas from the Chicago Bulls) to improve the fortunes of the franchise

Jordan has the drive and the passion to be a successful owner in the NBA. He has a lot to prove to the city of Charlotte though. As long as he is visible and accessible to Bobcats season ticket holders and fans, and the Charlotte media, and of course, build a winner, the love affair between the city and NBA will return, and allow the franchise to be the hottest ticket in town.

    • Gabby Dudley
    • March 10th, 2010

    It is still very early in the game. Let’s give MJ a chance to make a difference in Charlotte. He needs at least six months to one year year to implement any plans that he has for the team.

    Interesting post…I think many people have their eyes on MJ and the Bobcats right now.

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