The Bobcats’ Road to Nowhere

You know that things are bad for a sports franchise when the local media runs stories about how the owner is not selling the team. From WCNC’s web site:

Bob Johnson said Monday he remains committed to the Charlotte Bobcats, who have struggled to win and attract fans since he paid $300 million for the expansion franchise four years ago.

Johnson laid off nearly 40 employees in the past month to save money, and three top executives have left the organization. But in an interview with The Associated Press, Johnson said he has no intention of unloading the team, and will spend what it takes to get the Bobcats to the playoffs for the first time.

So… the Bobcats recently laid off 40 people, are $4.3 million over the salary cap, hired Larry Brown as their new head coach… and no one in Charlotte cares. Johnson even sold a stake in the team to North Carolina icon Michael Jordan in 2006 and gave him complete control of all personnel decisions (something that Jordan was less than stellar at with the Wizards) and still no one comes to the games.

The Bobcats have run up a stellar .332 record in their brief history, and all the while Bob Johnson has been drowning in red ink, first by charging outrageous prices for Bobcats tickets, then trying (and failing) to start a regional sports network, then pissing off local businesses. Oh, and let’s not forget the now-defunct Charlotte Sting, a WNBA franchise Johnson started that no one in Charlotte even remembers. And now Wachovia, the Bobcats’ biggest financial supporter, is having problems of its own. The team continues losing, and it continues to be one of the worst draws in the NBA (24th out of 30 teams last year).

How much longer can Johnson afford to throw money at a team that no one wants?

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