Since being founded in 2004 by billionaire Robert Johnson, the Charlotte Bobcats, now reincarnated as the Charlotte Hornets, are arguably the least accomplished franchise in the NBA—at least on the court.
The organization has produced just two All-Stars (Gerald Wallace and Kemba Walker, three times), three playoff appearances (2010, 2014, 2016), these unfortunate jerseys, and the worst single-season record in history, going 7-59 in 2011-12.
However, they can claim to be the first—and only—NBA franchise with an African-American majority owner. And, after Chicago Bulls legend and North Carolina native Michael Jordan acquired majority ownership in 2010, they’ve had the only two black majority shareholders.
So how did His Airness became the majority owner of his home-state franchise?
On June 16, 2005, Jordan reached a deal with Johnson to acquire a minority stake in the Bobcats (yes, Bob Johnson named them after himself—a solid flex). The deal made Jordan both the organization’s second-largest stakeholder and gave him the title of “Managing Member of Basketball Operations”, putting him in charge of roster-building (gulp).
In 1999, after his second retirement, Michael Jordan had attempted to buy a minority stake in the (original) Hornets, but then-owner George Shinn refused to give MJ the basketball operations power he desired, and the deal collapsed. Instead, Jordan purchased a minority share in the Washington Wizards and became the president of basketball operations—and later shooting guard—for the D.C. franchise.
By 2010, reports surfaced that Jordan, worth an estimated $2.1 billion today, had his sights set on a majority stake in the team. On Feb. 27, 2010, the Bobcats announced that Johnson and Jordan’s group, MJ Basketball Holdings, had reached a deal to transition majority ownership of the team to Jordan, pending NBA approval.
Three weeks later, on March 17, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved Jordan’s purchase, rendering the greatest basketball of all time as, perhaps fittingly, the first former player to become a majority owner. Jordan replaced Johnson as the league’s only African-American owner, and he remains so today.
Among Jordan’s many, many unmatched accomplishments over the course of his life in basketball, his role as league’s lone majority black owner is significant, even if his record as a basketball executive is justifiably criticized.