Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s tenure as the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets is set to come to an end. On Friday, it was announced that Jordan has reached an agreement to sell his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets. The legendary NBA player will be handing over his 13-year reign to a group led by Hornets minority owner Gabe Plotkin and Atlanta Hawks minority owner Rick Schnall. Notably, rapper J. Cole and country music singer-songwriter Eric Church are also set to be part of the new ownership group.
The sale is based on an approximately $3 billion valuation, marking a significant return on Jordan’s initial investment. Jordan bought a controlling interest in the team from George Shinn in 2010 for $275 million after becoming a part-owner in 2006. Despite stepping back from majority ownership, Jordan will retain a minority stake in the team, maintaining his connection with the franchise. Meanwhile, Schnall is set to sell his minority investment in the Hawks.
The deal is currently pending approval from the NBA Board of Governors. After the green light from the league, Jordan is set to oversee basketball operations during the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday, where the Hornets hold the No. 2 pick, and the commencement of free agency.
New Owners’ Credentials
The incoming majority owners, Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall, are not new to the world of NBA ownership. Plotkin, the founder and Chief Investment Officer of Melvin Capital, previously bought a significant minority stake from Jordan in 2020. On the other hand, Schnall, co-president at the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in New York, was part of a group, including majority owner Tony Ressler and Grant Hill, that bought the Hawks in 2015 for $850 million.
Jordan’s tenure as the majority owner was marked by significant milestones. He became the first former NBA player to become a majority owner, a momentous achievement that increased representation for athletes in ownership roles. He also restored the original team name, switching it back to the Charlotte Hornets from the Charlotte Bobcats.
Despite these high points, the team’s performance during his tenure as majority owner was less than stellar. The Hornets made the postseason only twice since 2010, a fact that stood in stark contrast to Jordan’s own illustrious career.
Preparation for NBA Draft
Even as ownership shifts, the Hornets’ front office remains focused on the impending NBA Draft. Top draft prospects Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller have reportedly been engaged in discussions with the front office, as per Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer. The team has plans to schedule return visits for both prospects with Jordan before the final transition of ownership. While other prospects, including Amen and Ausar Thompson, have also been brought in, the spotlight seems to be on Henderson and Miller.
Despite a 27-55 season marred by injuries to key players, the Hornets are looking at a hopeful future. With the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft and a new ownership group, fans are eagerly waiting to see how the franchise will evolve and whether it can steer towards consistent success.
In the end, while the majority ownership stake is being sold, Jordan’s influence and connection with the Hornets will continue. His minority stake ensures his ongoing involvement with the franchise, marking a new chapter in his association with the NBA. Jordan’s pivotal role in basketball operations for the 2023 NBA Draft and the initiation of the free agency indicates his continued commitment to the team and his potential influence on the strategic decisions of the new owners.
A Look at the New Ownership
The incoming ownership group brings diverse skills and backgrounds to the table. Both Plotkin and Schnall are seasoned investors with experience in managing significant assets. Their prior involvement in NBA franchise ownership could provide them with the necessary insight to navigate the complexities of running a major sports team.
Joining them, cultural figures like J. Cole and Eric Church add a new dynamic to the team’s management. Their involvement may serve to enhance the Hornets’ outreach and brand recognition, contributing to a broader engagement with fans and the wider public. It’s worth noting that the incorporation of such personalities in the ownership structure is a growing trend in professional sports, adding an extra layer of intrigue and marketability to the teams.
While the deal awaits approval, the team’s operations will remain steady. The Charlotte front office is ensuring continuity and focus, especially considering the critical position the team is in with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft. The draft presents an opportunity to secure promising talent, potentially reshaping the future of the franchise.
Reflecting on Jordan’s tenure as majority owner, despite a lack of consistent success in terms of the team’s performance, his impact extends beyond the win-loss column. As the NBA’s first Black majority owner, Jordan has paved the way for increased diversity and representation within NBA ownership.
In conclusion, as Michael Jordan prepares to hand over the majority ownership of the Charlotte Hornets, the franchise is poised to embark on a new journey. With the prospect of new talent from the NBA Draft, an incoming ownership group boasting varied expertise, and Jordan’s continued influence, the future holds promise for the Hornets. Time will tell how these changes will impact the franchise and if they can usher in a new era of success for the team.