Michael Jordan didn’t have a lot of on-court success owning the Charlotte Hornets. Financially, it could be a huge win.
Jordan purchased 65 percent of the Hornets from Robert Johnson in 2010 at a valuation of $280 million, after becoming a minority investor and team president in 2006. Jordan assumed $150 million of the franchise’s debt, meaning he paid $30 million in cash at the time.
In 2019, Jordan sold off a percentage of the team to Gabe Plotkin and Daniel Sundheim, which valued the Hornets at $1.5 billion. That’s a fivefold increase in the team’s price over nine years.
Now, Jordan is in discussions to sell a controlling, majority interest in the team to a group that includes Plotkin, Sundheim and a member of the Atlanta Hawks’ ownership group, Rick Schnall. All three men work in private equity, but Plotkin closed his firm, Melvin Capital, last year, after huge losses from heavily shorting stock including GameStop and AMC Entertainment.
Plotkin is a former protégé of New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, who helped bail out Melvin Capital in 2021.
Jordan’s sale would pay off handsomely for him, with the franchise’s value likely rising well beyond the $1.5 billion from just three years ago. That’s thanks to the imminent new TV deal, for which the league is seeking $70 billion to $75 billion. The Phoenix Suns sold for $4 billion earlier this year, while the Utah Jazz sold for $1.6 billion in 2020 and the Timberwolves’s $1.5 billion sale will close later this year.
It will also leave the league without a single African-American owner in a league that’s predominantly Black, but Jordan reportedly plans to remain a minority owner in Charlotte. After all, when he got a chance to quintuple his investment, Jordan decided to just do it.