One of the worst-kept secrets of the NBA has finally been made public: Bob Johnson wants to sell the Charlotte Bobcats.
This post over at the QC Sports Blog lays it out better than any local news site I’ve seen. You should read it for yourself, but here’s the short version: Johnson has gone from a billionaire to a $500 millionaire in the past couple of years. He has made it perfectly clear that he owns the Bobcats as a business investment, not from any passion for the game or the people of Charlotte. And now that he is hemorrhaging money, he needs to get rid of the team ASAP.
The “good news” for the city (if you want to call it that), is that an NBA team will remain here no matter what. The contract the Johnson signed with the city includes a $200 million penalty if the team tries to leave before 2010, and a $150 million penalty until 2015 (read more here). So whoever buys the Bobs will either keep them here or pay a penalty (worth almost as much as the team itself) to move them.
So – who will the new owner be? Right now, the trendy pick is currently minority owner Michael Jordan, although this comes with its own set of baggage. We don’t know if Jordan has the finances to pull it off, much less if he’s even interested in buying the team outright. Plus, there was that whole “gambling thing” a few years back, and we don’t know if the NBA will allow an admitted gambler to buy a team. Plus, Jordan is reluctant to mingle with fans, something a good owner would do.
I don’t know… but I do agree with the blog that whoever ends up with the Bobs out to rename the team. Johnson’s ownership has been a joke, and it’s an insult to the people of Charlotte to keep Johnson’s name with the team.