Now that Michael Jordan’s $275 million bid to buy the Charlotte Bobcats from billionaire Robert L. Johnson has been approved by the National Basketball Association’s Board of Governor’s, the former basketball great’s MJ Basketball Holdings L.L.C. has a controlling interest in the team, the Time Warner Cable Arena, and gives him the option to change the team’s name.
“Purchasing the Bobcats is the culmination of my post-playing career goal of becoming the majority owner of an NBA franchise,” said Jordan, in an interview with NBA.com.
Johnson, the founder of The Bobcats Basketball Holdings L.L.C. (No. 40 on the 2009 BE Industrial/Service Companies list), became the first African American owner of an NBA franchise when he paid $300 million for the expansion team in 2002. Jordan, a six-time NBA champion and hall of famer, will be the second African American and the first NBA player to own a franchise. Johnson will remain a minority owner of the team.
“I am confident that Michael’s leadership will bring success to the Bobcats whether it’s measured by on the court performance, success as a business, or making a positive impact in the Charlotte community,” said Johnson, who also owns several companies including Maryland-based RLJ Development (No. 8 on the BE Industrial/Service list with $605.2 million in revenue) and Urban Trust Bank (No. 12 on the 2009 BE Banks list with $206.9 million in deposits).
Jordan is a five-time NBA MVP — notably for the Chicago Bulls — and 14-time All-Star who has made millions selling sneakers, apparel and other items, according to the Associated Press.
Johnson, the creator and former owner of Black Entertainment Television, put the team up for sale because poor on-court performance and little interest from fans have kept ticket sales low and caused the team’s debt to rise. The transaction involves Jordan taking on $150 million of debt, which might be more than his net worth of $400 to $500 million can handle, according to ESPN.
Jordan, 47, bought a minority stake in the Bobcats in 2006, which came with the opportunity to be manager of basketball operations. Critics at ESPN say that both Johnson and Jordan’s absence from daily operations in Charlotte and Jordan’s ineffectual draft picks produced the Bobcat’s lackluster financial performance. However, on the court, the team has improved and the franchise could make its first NBA Championship Playoff appearance this year.
“Now that I’m the principal owner, I understand the commitment I’ve made and know the responsibilities are different,” says Jordan, who resides in Chicago and Charlotte. “I’m up for that challenge. I’ll do whatever I can to make this team a success both on and off the court.
The team was represented in the transaction by GSP Securities LLP and Jordan was represented by Moag and Co. and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz.