Report: Michael Jordan finalizing sale of Charlotte Hornets to ownership group that includes J. Cole

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan reportedly is finalizing a sale of the Charlotte Hornets, ending a profoundly disappointing 13-year run as majority owner for arguably the greatest player of all time.

ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski said the team is being sold to Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall. The team said rapper J. Cole also will be part of the ownership group.

Jordan is expected to keep a minority stake and presence with the franchise, according to ESPN. He will oversee basketball operations through the NBA draft on Thursday, when the Hornets have the No. 2 pick, and start of free agency on July 1.

With a new ownership group set to take over, it seems as though some changes might be coming. Yahoo! Sports’ Jake Fischer wrote about that last week.

“There has already been plenty of speculation among team staffers regarding potential replacements for general manager Mitch Kupchak and head coach Steve Clifford, both of whom have one more guaranteed year on their contracts for the 2023-24 season, sources said, for whenever any possible new management structure takes shape in Charlotte,” wrote Fischer.

Jordan paid $275 million for a majority stake in the team, then known as the Charlotte Bobcats, in 2010 and has been the NBA’s only Black majority owner.

The Hornets were 27-55 last season and did not make the playoffs, a usual occurrence under Jordan’s ownership. Under Jordan, Charlotte has made the playoffs twice (2014 and 2016) and been eliminated in the first round each time. The franchise, which debuted as an expansion team in 1988, has not won a playoff series since 2002 and won only four in its history.

The Hornets looked to be on the upswing, improving from 23 to 33 to 43 wins in the three seasons prior to last season. But the 2022-23 campaign was marred by injuries, leading to a significant step backward.

Leading scorer LaMelo Ball appeared in only 36 games because of ankle injuries, and Kelly Oubre Jr. was limited to 48 games because of a hand injury. The Hornets started the season 4-14 and never were able to get back on track.

None of the failures as an owner can ever diminish what Jordan accomplished on the court. He won six NBA championships and five NBA MVPs with the Chicago Bulls, and his status among the game’s all-time greats is unquestioned.

Jordan’s sale of the Hornets is just one of the early moves in what is expected to be an extremely newsworthy NBA offseason. With lots of player movement likely to take place, some are expecting a “major reset” in the league this summer.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.