SBD/Issue 131/Franchises

Former Bobcats Owner Bob Johnson Blasts Charlotte Biz Community

Johnson Calls Charlotte's Business
Community "Arrogant" And "Incestuous"

Bobcats investor and former Owner Bob Johnson Saturday at the Urban Leadership Institute "called Charlotte's business community 'arrogant' and 'incestuous' and said the city doesn't do enough for existing and potential minority-owned business," according to Cleve Wootson Jr. of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Johnson said Charlotte is a "very, how would I call it, close-knit, arrogant, sometimes incestuous town." Johnson: "If you come to this town, and you look like you're one of those people that might break some glass ... it's going to be tough for them to relate to. The thing that concerns me is that I'm just surprised that the city doesn't do more for African-American small businesses. And I don't really understand that" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/21). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes Johnson's comments were "typically absurd because they revolve around a central theme" that Charlotte "again failed him." Johnson was "tough to relate to," and he "expected our accolades and our dollars simply because he was here." Sorensen: "If Johnson wanted us to support him, he was obligated to support us." Meanwhile, Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan over the weekend wrote an open letter to the city of Charlotte, and Sorensen writes the letter was a "testament to accountability" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/22). The open letter appeared as a full-page ad in the sports section of Sunday's Charlotte Observer. Jordan also sent out a separate letter to season-ticket holders (THE DAILY).

Jordan Discusses Nurturing Relationship With
Corporate Community In FS Carolinas Interview

MIKE ON MIKE: Jordan was the subject of ESPN's "Sunday Conversation" last night, where he addressed how he has changed since retiring. Jordan: "I have to understand times are different and successes are totally evaluated in totally different ways, and it took me a while to just see myself away from it, to not expect so much and not be so critical of so much. But I think I've gotten to that." He added, "I'm closer to the Mark Cuban type. I'm passionate. When you see me down on the floor, I may yell at the referees every now and then. I've yet to get a technical which is good. … So I am a hands-on owner, but yet I'm an understanding owner because I was down in that same position a lot of these players are in" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/21). Jordan: "What I'd like to see happen is that I build a great bond with this community and corporate America in this area. Obviously, there's going to be some interacting between us, the two partnerships, and I think I'm going to look for all different types of opportunities for that to happen so that we can grow the relationship." He added, "As quickly as we can get back trying to nurture some of these relationships the better. That's where my energy is right now. I'm happy to take ownership. I know it's a burden, I know it's a big financial commitment but I'm not afraid of it" (FS Carolina, 3/19). More Jordan: "I understand where Bob was and the financial restraints that he's dealt with. I like to feel that I'm going to come in and see if I can make a difference and I don't want to lose money. I got to accept that we may work our losses down to some degree, but at some point in time I'd like to think there's an upside to being involved in this process" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 3/19).

POISED FOR SUCCESS: In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence cited NBA sources as saying that Jordan is "putting roughly $25[M] down of his own money and committing to pay close to $70[M] over the next few years to cover anticipated losses." Jordan is "working on lining up partners who will help cover the remaining money that brings the purchase price" to $275M, but the NBA is "confident, that because of his cache, he will have no problem finding people with deep pockets to join him." Jordan's "ability to build a relationship with the business community is seen as essential to a turnaround," and he "needs to mend some fences." The Bobcats had "experienced attendance decreases in three straight seasons until this season, when they've averaged 15,630 per game." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said Jordan "has to make the commitment, meaning he's got to put in the personal time in Charlotte so that the fans see him and he's there with the corporate people and business people" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/21). SI.com's Ian Thomsen wrote he believes Jordan "will succeed as owner of the Bobcats." Because Jordan has "invested so much of his own money in the team, he will be fully engaged," and that "means he will deploy himself as the face of the franchise." Thomsen: "He'll personally sell sponsorships, he'll speak to the media, he'll personally recruit players. No franchise in the league -- not even the Cavaliers -- has a better asset than the Bobcats have in Michael Jordan" (SI.com, 3/19).

POSITIVE LABOR IMPACT? In Miami, Michael Wallace noted with Jordan becoming an owner, Heat F and NBPA Secretary & Treasurer James Jones "expects one more sympathetic ear among the NBA's brass in labor negotiations." Jones said Jordan has a "unique perspective." Jones: "When you can mesh a person like Mike -- who played and is now an owner -- he has a perspective I don't think anyone in that (negotiating) room is going to have" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/21). Jordan said of the labor negotiations, "I plan on being involved. Obviously, I'm invested and I am an owner right now. I know there's a lot of discussions in terms of how this labor situation is going to happen. I've been on both sides. I'm totally aware of how successful David Stern can speak for the owners. If he asked me to participate, I will participate" ("Street Signs," CNBC, 3/19).

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