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MJ Buys Stake in Charlotte Bobcats

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 16, 2006 5:28PM

2006_06_sports_mj_exec.jpgJust a few weeks ago, a former Chicagoan asked us whether we knew what MJ was up to lately, because he hadn't seen or heard anything about him in quite a while. Even here in Chicago, he'd been keeping a pretty low profile since his retirement from the Washington Wizards in 2003. Yeah, there was that motorcycle racing thing, but that's about all we've heard in the past couple years. He tried to buy the Milwaukee Bucks in 2004, and I said I was pretty sure he was still plotting his return to the NBA as an owner.

After being dismissed from the Wizards by its majority owner, MJ had said he wanted to buy a team in which he himself would be the majority owner. In fact, when the Charlotte Bobcats entered the league, founder Bob Johnson offered him the chance to invest and hold any position within the organization -- except majority owner. At the time, MJ passed.

However, the Charlotte Bobcats announced yesterday that Michael Jordan has become the second largest investor in the team and will essentially assume the role of team president. Johnson recently fired team president and CEO Ed Tapscott, as part of a management team shake-up.

With MJ on board, will that dramatically alter the fortunes of the two-year-old team? They've been losing money since entering the league. They've also been losing lots of games, although that's to be expected from an expansion team. Can MJ's cache boost attendance and revenue, and can he help lure some free agent talent to Charlotte that will speed up the franchise's ability to field a competitive team?

By investing in the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan returns to the NBA in the state where he grew up and played college ball. There is no place, except for Chicago, where he is more beloved. That leads us to believe he'll have more influence over the fate of the franchise than he did in Washington. He also seems to have an owner who will look to him more as an equal, and trusts his basketball and business accumen more than Abe Pollin did. But will MJ stay with the Bobcats should a majority ownership opportunity present itself? His personality certainly doesn't suggest he's willing to give up on goals. Bob Johnson doesn't seem likely to sell out his stake anytime soon, so will MJ bolt should the Bulls, Bucks or another team become available for the right price?