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Michael Jordan's $3 Billion Hornets Sale

2023

Michael Jordan's decision to sell his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets for a staggering $3 billion is undoubtedly a smart business move, considering he originally purchased the team for just $275 million back in 2010. However, it is a bittersweet moment, as it highlights a concerning trend: there is currently not a single majority owner who is Black in the most popular and lucrative professional sports leagues in America.

The sale will see Jordan retaining a minority stake and maintaining some presence with the franchise, but it means he will no longer be the face of the Hornets, joining other Black celebrities who hold minority ownership stakes in teams.

In recent years, we've witnessed the sale of teams like the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, and Washington Commanders in the NFL, as well as the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, and Phoenix Suns in the NBA—all acquired by non-Black individuals. Major League Baseball also saw the New York Mets being bought by a wealthy white buyer, Steve Cohen.

The issue here is not that white people are buying teams; rather, it's the lack of Black ownership due to socioeconomic factors and systemic racism. Black athletes dominate the NBA and NFL, yet they seldom have the opportunity to transition to team ownership.

LeBron James, who has owned a team in his financial portfolio, expressed his desire to bring a team to Las Vegas, emphasizing the need for Black ownership in sports. Magic Johnson, a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Commanders, echoed the sentiment, but pointed out that change needs to start with existing team owners acknowledging the value of Black ownership.

The sale of the Hornets is the seventh-most expensive sale price ever for a sports franchise, indicating that Jordan chose a prime time to sell. However, the value of this decision depends on individual perspectives and priorities.

The New York Times published an article, "Michael Jordan was an activist after all," shedding light on the charitable endeavors Jordan has undertaken behind closed doors, particularly benefiting Black athletes. Still, Jordan's past comment, "Republicans buy sneakers, too," in response to the 1990 U.S. Senate race between Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt, has drawn criticism from the Black community.

While Jordan has every right to do as he pleases with the Charlotte Hornets, history may perceive his decision to sell as a missed opportunity for progress in a time when sports desperately needs Black ownership representation. Activism requires being active, and some may see this move as a step back from that role for Jordan.

In conclusion, Michael Jordan's decision to sell his majority stake in the Hornets comes with mixed emotions. It's a smart business move, but it also shines a light on the lack of Black majority owners in professional sports, a void that many believe needs to be filled for progress to be made.

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