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February 27, 2010

Jordan buys the Bobcats

By Rick Bonnell

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Now we find out how the Charlotte Bobcats will operate with Michael Jordan truly in charge.

  In the early hours of Saturday morning, Bobcats majority owner Bob Johnson announced he’s selling control of the team to Jordan, the Hall of Fame player who has overseen the Bobcats’ basketball operation the past few years.

  Jordan beat out former Houston Rockets president George Postolos, who led an investor group looking to buy the team. Johnson contacted Postolos late Friday to inform him that Jordan would be buying the team.

  It was not immediately clear who will be in Jordan’s ownership group. Sources said he was still recruiting investors in the past few days through various intermediaries.

  Jordan had a deal with Johnson to be an equity partner and oversee the basketball operation. Included in that agreement was a right of first refusal to buy control if Johnson chose to sell. Johnson has lost tens of millions on the Bobcats and it appears unlikely he would recoup his original investment of a $300 million expansion fee, plus $30 million in working capital.

  Jordan has served in his current role with the Bobcats since 2006, after a less than amicable parting with the Washington Wizards, where he also controlled basketball decisions.

 He chose two of the Bobcats' top executives, president Fred Whitfield and general manager Rod Higgins. Both are among Jordan's closest friends.

  In Charlotte, Jordan’s best moves have included hiring coach Larry Brown and trading for Stephen Jackson, Tyrus Thomas and Boris Diaw. Other moves, including drafting Adam Morrison and hiring former coach Sam Vincent, were more questionable.

    The Bobcats are in contention for what would be the franchise’s first playoff spot. Friday night they beat the Memphis Grizzlies to break a three-game losing streak.

  Jordan’s purchase of the team is subject to approval by owners of the other 29 NBA franchises. However, he already has the endorsement of league commissioner David Stern.

  Responding to an Observer question during the Saturday of All-Star Weekend, Stern said, “I like the level, (the) increased level, of Michael’s involvement and if Michael were a buyer, that would be a good thing.’’

  Jordan hasn’t commented recently, concerning his interesting in buying the team, but he was emphatic with Brown recently about how hard he was trying.

  “I’m trying my hardest to get this thing done,’’ Brown quoted Jordan as telling him on Feb. 15, the first practice following All-Star break.

  Brown has hinted several times that his interest in remaining with the Bobcats could hinge on whether Jordan continued with the franchise.

“Anytime I read a possibility Michael isn’t going to be involved, it impacts my family and me. I came here because of him – no other reason,’’ Brown said Feb. 15. “After I got here, I realized there are a lot of real pluses to being here. But I wouldn’t have thought about’’ coaching the Bobcats had Jordan not asked.

  “Selfishly, I just don’t want to see Michael not involved.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on February 27, 2010 at 02:29 AM | Permalink

Comments

Maybe he wont be as absentee, but I don't see him giving up a west coast tee time for a game.

Posted by: Tattoo | Feb 27, 2010 2:57:07 AM

Postolos says:
"A plague upon both your houses!"

Posted by: reggie Gallant | Feb 27, 2010 11:44:28 AM

jordan will get charlotte the all-star game

Posted by: joe cool | Feb 27, 2010 12:41:56 PM

Great news, really excited when I saw this last night. This will be a huge positive for the franchise in the long run and Jordan's draft mistakes have been waaaay overblown.

Who else do you draft besides Kwame Brown with that first pick? Eddie Curry? Tyson Chandler? Neither of those guys has had a career much better than Brown and no one in their right mind would have taken anyone outside of those 3 with the top pick in that draft.

As far as the Adam Morrison pick, that was aweful and I saw it from a mile away (always said we shoulda took Gay, or Roy but he didn't want to be here) but I still don't blame Jordan much for this one. He had been with the team for less than a month prior to that draft. He hadn't been involved with basketball, scouting etc. for the prior season to evaluate the needs of the bobcats or the talent that was coming out of college. Published stories at the time mentioned how Bernie Bickerstaff was still the GM and he would have influence over that pick since he had been involved with the team and scouting process all along. Jordan had the ultimate power to veto whatever decision was made but there was sooooooo much pressure in Charlotte from the fans and local media to draft the next "Larry Bird", the great white hope. The town and local media were already upset to have a black owner and had they passed on Morrison and he become a half way decent player, they would have never lived it down. Its funny how the Bonnell wrote stories encouraging the team to pick Morrison and after he was a bust Bonnell does nothing but rip Jordan for it.

The Augustin pick was another bad one and we should have taken Lopez. But there is no one who can convince me that this pick wasn't all about Larry Brown wanting "his" point guard. I know Jordan had the ultimate say but again what people seem to overlook is Jordan IS and ALWAYS WAS AN OWNER of the Bobcats. He went from a minority owner to a majority owner. But he was never a scout, a coach, a GM with the bobcats. So, I don't see the big deal that he is not at practice or at all of the games (though I've seen him at every game I have attended). He has a GM, coaches and scouts to evaluate talent and decide the needs of team and the best direction to go in the draft. Again, I know he is the one who will ultimately take the blame.

Jordan never wanted to be Bob Johnson's show pony but I think you will see him much more involved with the team and city, now that he is the main person who will ultimately benefit from putting himself on display. As stupid as that seems to me, that is what a lot of Charlotte fans seem to want. All I care about is an owner who is commited to winning and I KNOW that Jordan will be that.

Posted by: steeler36 | Feb 27, 2010 2:33:34 PM

Steeler36,

what about Pau? Randolph? even Richard Jefferson?

id totally take Pau first if i went back in time.

Posted by: reggie Gallant | Feb 27, 2010 10:53:35 PM

Uhh...steeler, we have no idea whatsoever as to what amount of the team Jordan now owns. The NBA only requires the primary owner to hold 15% of the team. Further, Jordan LOVED Morrison and believed he was the killer instinct scorer the team needed to close close games in the final minutes.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Feb 28, 2010 10:03:17 PM

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