Jordan soon could have a much different role: team owner.
Charlotte coach Larry Brown said Monday night that Jordan has told him he’s doing all he can to buy majority control of the Bobcats from owner Bob Johnson.
“He said he’s doing his best to put himself in a position to get the team,” Brown said after practice. “He wants it badly.”
Johnson is eager to sell the unprofitable club, and NBA commissioner David Stern said Saturday he expects a deal to be completed within two months.
While Stern has said Jordan owning the team “would be a good thing,” he may have competition. Former Houston Rockets executive George Postolos has made inquiries, and it’s possible if Postolos gets control Jordan would no longer have a role with the team.
Jordan, currently a part owner with the final say on basketball decisions, would have to put an ownership group together and agree with Johnson on a price. Jordan declined comment Monday through a team spokesman.
“I didn’t talk to him about the particulars,” Brown said of his conversation with Jordan last week. “He just told me don’t believe everything you read in the paper and I’m trying my hardest to get this thing done. I’m hopeful that at the end of the day Michael will be running the Bobcats.”
Postolos, who once worked as an assistant to Stern in the NBA offices, has been in talks with Johnson for months.
“I am still not talking to media about Charlotte,” Postolos wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Monday.
Jordan currently has a unique role in Charlotte. While he runs the basketball operations, he’s not officially a team employee and rarely attends practices or games. But he was able to lure Brown, a fellow Hall of Famer, to coach the Bobcats and Charlotte (26-25) is in position to make its first playoff appearance this season.
“Anytime I read a possibility that Michael is not going to be involved it impacts my family and me because I came here because of him,” said Brown, in his record ninth NBA head coaching job. “Now after I got here I realized there were a lot of real plusses for being here. But again, I wouldn’t have thought about it and I’ve been thrilled since I’ve gotten here with the arrangement.”
Guard Raymond Felton was even more confident that a deal would be struck to make one of North Carolina’s most popular figures owner of the state’s NBA team.
“From what I’ve been hearing it’s probably going to happen,” Felton said. “So I hope it works out and he gets the team.”
Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television and the first black majority owner of a major professional sports team, also wasn’t talking Monday. He has declined interview requests for months.
What’s clear is Johnson is looking to unload the Bobcats. After paying $300 million for the expansion franchise that began play in 2004-05, Johnson has lost tens of millions of dollars each season as the Bobcats have struggled to draw fans and find sponsorships.
But after five losing seasons, the Bobcats sit in sixth place ahead of Tuesday’s game against New Jersey.
“[Johnson] wanted the snow in Dallas to freeze the season so that the Bobcats would go right to the playoffs for the first time,” Stern joked at his news conference Saturday. “So I think they have done a good job of putting a team together.”
Jordan has had a role in that since buying into the team in 2006 and getting control over basketball decisions. After a rocky beginning that included drafting the disappointing Adam Morrison, he’s made several moves that have helped the team, including November’s acquisition of Stephen Jackson from Golden State.
Owning a team outright would be another milestone for the six-time NBA champion.
“He’s as good a player as we’ve ever had in this sport. He’s a wonderful guy,” Brown said. “I think when the NBA bounced back, Magic [Johnson] and Larry [Bird] and then Michael sustained it. A lot of people owe a lot to him. I don’t think David Stern takes that lightly. I think he admires Michael and realizes what he means to our sport.
“I just think we’ve got to have him involved. … I just can’t see the NBA without him being involved.”