Michael Jordan is making history in the NBA once again but this time not on the court.
Yesterday (March17) Jordan became the first former player to be a majority team owner in the NBA when his $275 million bid to buy the Charlotte Bobcats was unanimously approved by the league’s Board of Governors.
“We are pleased that Michael Jordan’s purchase of majority ownership of the Bobcats was approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors and closed in such a smooth and expeditious fashion,” said NBA commissioner David Stern. “We look forward to the continued growth of the Bobcats, on and off the court, under his leadership.”
Jordan and MJ Basketball Holdings, LLC had actually reached an agreement to purchase the majority of the team from Bobcats owner Bob Johnson in late February, but was awaiting official approval by the league.
“Purchasing the Bobcats is the culmination of my post-playing career goal of becoming the majority owner of an NBA franchise,” Jordan said in a statement. “I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to build a winning team in my home state of North Carolina.”
Although the deal is historical, Jordan has a great task on his hand. The six-time NBA champion and five-time league MVP will be charged with turning around the luck of the 6-year-old Bobcats, who are on pace to lose about $30 million this season because of sluggish ticket and sponsorship sales.
With the acquisition, Michael Jordan is said to assume about $150 million in debt in the deal.
Despite the financial challenges, Jordan and BET creator Bob Johnson’s deal is significant because it places Jordan as only the second black majority owner of a major U.S. pro sports team after replacing Johnson.
Johnson, who paid $300 million for the expansion team, is reported to have lost tens of millions annually after the value of the team declined. Even though Jordan has the majority of ownership, Johnson won’t completely end his relationship with the team. A spokeswoman for Johnson said he’ll be a minority investor in Jordan’s ownership group.
“The best decision I made since acquiring the Bobcats was to convince my friend Michael to become an investor in the Bobcats and to appoint him as managing member of basketball operations,” Johnson said in a statement. “As the new majority owner of the Bobcats, his dedication will be stronger now more than ever.”