How The Charlotte Hornets Made Michael Jordan A Billionaire

By on February 16, 2016 in ArticlesSports News

Michael Jordan is worth more than a billion dollars, though very little of it actually came from his salary while playing with the Bulls, and later the Wizards–he only made about $93 million during his playing days.

Of course, when you're considered the greatest player to ever play the game by most basketball purists, you can earn money in other ways. For Jordan, his two biggest consistent sources of income are his Nike/Jordan Brand endorsement deals (worth about $60 million annually), and his stake in the Charlotte Hornets. In fact, it was the Hornets–back then the Bobcats–that officially made him a billionaire. Jordan bought the team for $275 million, and they're now worth $750 million.

Back in 2006, Robert L. Johnson, founder of BET, was the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. He brought Jordan on as a Managing Member of Basketball Operations; as a result, Jordan became the largest individual owner of the Bobcats after Johnson.

This was actually Jordan's second attempt to buy a team in Charlotte. A decade earlier, he had tried to purchase the original Charlotte Hornets team (now the New Orleans Pelicans), but that deal collapsed when owner George Shinn refused to give Jordan full control of basketball operations.

Jordan has had a hand in some of the Hornets draft picks, and the results haven't been pretty. His most famous whiff was probably on Adam Morrison in 2006, when the franchise took the Gonzaga star with the third pick of the draft. That was ahead of far superior players, like Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Brandon Roy and Paul Millsap.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Fortunately, bad draft picks typically don't stop a franchise from rising in value, and when Jordan took over majority control of the team in 2010, by purchasing 80 percent from Johnson, he became the first ex-player to serve as majority owner.

Now, remember how we said bad draft picks don't typically decrease a franchise's value? That's usually the case, though it doesn't always mean the team is in solid financial straits. Johnson lost tens of millions of dollars annually, and Jordan actually assumed about $150 million in debt when he purchased the team.

Over the past couple of years, Jordan has assumed even more control of the team. He increased his stake from 80 to 89.5 percent as of 2014, and he currently owns 93 percent of the Hornets. That debt is still there, too; Forbes estimated the team still had about $135 million in debt as of 2014.

Assuming that debt is only a little bit less now, Jordan's equity in the Hornets is actually probably around $565-$575 million. Of course, that's still much more than he invested in the team, and they've played a big part in helping him reach billionaire status. Now, if only he could get the team to win a playoff game, he'd really be in business.

Articles Written by Joey Held
If there's a story anywhere in the world of music, sports, or entertainment, Joey wants to tell it. He's been freelancing since 2010, and prior to that, he attended the University of Miami, where he double majored in broadcast journalism and sport administration. A Chicago native, Joey currently resides in Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter and Google+ and always feel free to suggest a song for his next karaoke performance.
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