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Michael Jordan has agreed to sell his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets to wealthy investors Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall on Friday. This will end his 13-year run as majority owner and Chairperson of the Hornets that most people will say is unsuccessful. But I'm here to tell you that this was the most monumental ownership move in NBA history and for the culture.
Jordan sold his majority stake for $3 billion, according to sources close to the deal. Jordan will retain minority ownership of the team as part of the agreement. Jordan originally bought the team for $275 million in 2010. Forbes values the Hornets at $1.7 billion, which ranks 27th out of 30 NBA teams. But still still needs to be finalized by the NBA's board of governors, but if it's legit, this is a huge windfall for Michael Jordan.
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Up into that point, Jordan had a minority ownership stake in the team. Jordan became the first black majority owner of a NBA franchise, breaking down a barrier that had been long-standing for over 60 years. Ownership had always been whitewashed and with scandals involving former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the need for minority ownership became paramount. Robert Johnson was the first black owner in 2004 for the then Charlotte Bobcats, but they are few and far between. Despite the lead being predominantly black in its players and coaching ranks, the black ownership pool was small. Jordan helped break down that barrier as he has done so many times in his career. He was one of the first to have an exclusive shoe contract with Nike, took the league international with his fame, and his ownership status should never be overlooked or diminished.
People want to point to the fact that Michael Jordan's record as owner of the Charlotte Hornets is poor, at best. They've only made the playoffs twice since 2010 and have never advanced out of the first round. They have consistently swung and missed on a myriad of draft picks and have yet to establish a winning team. The Hornets finished 27-55 this past season, the 2nd-worst record in the Eastern Conference. People want to point to Michael Jordan's greatness on the court and equate that to his rule off the court as an GM for the Wizards and owner of the Hornets. But the two don't connect in my opinion. Michael Jordan made stances as an owner that he might have never done as a player. He was even instrumental in bringing the Hornets name back to Charlotte after they were expansion franchise called the Bobcats. It's just only a way to tear down someone as great as Michael Jordan.
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While on the court his Hornets run wasn't successful, the impact of his ownership laid the foundation that players after him will follow. LeBron James has always stated after his playing career is over he would want to own a team. Michael Jordan said that path for a lot of players like LeBron. James. It's hard to be first through the door and easier to follow someone after they have gone through the door. Jordan has meant so much to the game of basketball and just the sheer numbers of buying a team for $275 million, valuing at $1.7 billion, but selling for $3 billion should show you how important he is. If this was any other businessman, we'd be celebrating such a return on investment. I have never seen or heard any other owner getting bashed in the media for their lack of winning, but Jordan is a different animal. Celebrate the man and stop trying to tear him down.