(New York) Former star basketball player Michael Jordan will hand over control of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets to a group of investors after 13 years of lackluster athletic records.
“MJ”, one of his nicknames, will retain a minority stake in the capital of the Hornets, which he took over alone in 2010.
According to ESPN, the transaction reaches 3 billion dollars, the participation of the former player of the Chicago Bulls amounting to 97%, according to several American media.
It is a very good financial transaction for Michael Jordan who, according to the Charlotte Observer, had bought 65% of the capital for only 180 million dollars thirteen years ago. He then increased his stake gradually until he controlled almost all of the shares.
The sale should allow the former legendary number 23 to almost double his personal fortune. The magazine’s site estimated it at two billion dollars before the announcement, based on a valuation of the Hornets at 1.7 billion.
The sale price is thus much higher than the estimates attributed to the franchise by the specialized media, which are still less than two billion dollars.
This inflation testifies to the development of the NBA and its audience, as well as the current vogue which sees financiers and big fortunes fighting to afford sports clubs all over the world.
The group of investors includes financier Gabe Plotkin, who had already been a minority shareholder in the franchise since 2019, and Rick Schnall, co-chairman of private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier
Rick Schnall holds a minority stake in another NBA franchise, the Atlanta Hawks, which he has agreed to sell in the coming weeks because the league does not allow, like most major sports leagues, the same individual to hold interests in several clubs.
Among the investors is also the American rapper J. Cole, known for his passion for basketball and a brief professional career.
While the deal is juicy for “MJ,” the Jordan-era Hornets’ athletic record is mixed, at best. Even before becoming full owner of the club, he had taken a minority stake in 2006 and was at the same time appointed responsible for decisions related to the pitch.
In 17 seasons, Charlotte has only appeared in the playoffs three times, with an entry elimination each time. An anomaly for the former player crowned champion six times in eight seasons during the 1990s.
Charlotte notably struggled to get her hands on a young player capable of sustaining the club, making numerous draft picks which turned out to be fiascos, and letting several future stars pass.
Point guard LaMelo Ball, selected in 2020, showed great promise, to the point of being selected, in 2022, for the All-Star game.
But he was regularly injured and had to end his season in February after breaking his right ankle.
Despite his obvious aura, “MJ” also failed to attract top players already established in the league to Charlotte.
Although the team is starless and displays poor sporting results, the Hornets have nevertheless managed to fill their amphitheater well (17,100 spectators on average last season) and generate interest locally.
A shrewd businessman, Jordan obtained from the NBA that Charlotte recover, in 2013, the name of the Hornets.
In 2002, the owners of the Hornets had moved the franchise to New Orleans, before other investors obtained a new license to recreate, in 2004, a club in Charlotte, initially called the Bobcats.
The New Orleans franchise has dropped the name Hornets and renamed itself Pelicans.