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Art Garcia

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Michael Jordan, with Gerald Wallace, succeeds Bob Johnson as primary owner of the Bobcats.
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Jordan, officially OK'd by owners, puts his rep on the line


Posted Mar 17 2010 10:59AM - Updated Mar 17 2010 9:33PM

Michael Jordan didn't need to hit a last-second shot, or push off, once the approval process reached his new peers. The vote of the league's board of governors authorizing His Airness as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats was, appropriately enough, a slam dunk and passed unanimously.

Expect anything else?

"We're thrilled to have Michael back in the league as the principal owner of the Charlotte Bobcats," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver told NBA.com. "We have no doubt that he will apply himself in a similar manner to the way he did as one of the greatest players of all time."

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Jordan's firsts are many across the sports and business landscape. Becoming the first former player to become the principal owner of an NBA franchise may stand as his crowning achievement. Just the second black owner in league history -- Bobcats predecessor Bob Johnson was the first -- Jordan takes control of a franchise in the state where his rise to basketball prominence began.

The native of Wilmington and product of the University of North Carolina is buying the Bobcats for a reported $275 million. Johnson bought the expansion franchise for $300 million, but it has struggled financially and has never finished with a winning record since joining the league in 2004-05.

NBA commissioner David Stern, Silver and other members of the league office met last week with Jordan, who finalized his deal with Johnson on Feb. 26. They're convinced that Jordan, 47, is the right person to turn the Bobcats' fortunes around, on and off the court.

"He is undoubtedly one of the most competitive people on the planet and, having met with him last week, you can see first-hand the determination in his eyes to be successful as an owner," Silver said. "We all believe that this is a unique opportunity for, in essence, the rebirth of a franchise, a second chance to present the Charlotte Bobcats to Charlotte and the North Carolina community.

"Who better than Michael Jordan to do that?"

The buzz in Charlotte is generally positive and supportive of Jordan's new role. The Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion has spent the last four years as a minority owner of the Bobcats in charge of basketball decisions. He was heard from little and rarely seen at Bobcats games and practices. That's led to skepticism in the community regarding Jordan's commitment to the franchise.

"He was not the principal owner," Silver said. "It was Bob's team. As far as I know, Michael did everything that he committed to do as part of his relationship with Bob Johnson, but part of his deal was not to be the face of that franchise as he's going to be now."

Larry Brown has said Jordan was the reason he agreed to coach the Bobcats. The current players seem genuinely excited about the future. Charlotte is playing winning basketball so far and is poised to make its initial playoff trip.

"It's going to be great," said Stephen Jackson, one of the several key players acquired this season. "It will be a good opportunity to play for one of the best players to ever play the game. He wants to win and he'll get this organization back to a winning attitude."

All-Star forward Gerard Wallace added: "His competiveness and his leadership will be great. The way he approaches games and business will be good for this team, and I think for the organization and the city of Charlotte, too."

Renewing the connection to the Queen City may be Jordan's biggest obstacle and greatest potential reward. Charlotte was a bustling and buzzing NBA market with the Hornets before scandal hit the front office. The return of pro basketball with the Bobcats has yet to tap into the pulse of a basketball-crazed state.

Johnson has lost tens of millions of dollars and the team is reportedly expected to lose another $30 million this season. Jordan is said to take on at least $150 million in debt, as well as providing a much-needed infusion of cash. Selling a franchise for considerably less than it took to establish it less than six years ago can't be viewed as a positive sign.

"It certainly demonstrates the economic reality that the Charlotte Bobcats are facing right now," Silver said. "Having said that, it's a market that has demonstrated extraordinary success as an NBA franchise in the past and we all believe that the Charlotte Bobcats, under Michael's leadership, can return to a leadership position in the league."

Even with a winning record and playing in one of the NBA's newer facilities, the Bobcats are just 22nd in average attendance at 15,613. Charlotte led the league several times.

"Michael needs to demonstrate to the Charlotte community that he is all in, that he's as passionate about their team winning as they are, that he is committed to the community and he's dedicated to creating an enduring legacy for this team in Charlotte," Silver said. "Michael is in a unique position to do that because of his ties to the North Carolina community. It's a special understanding of what it takes to produce a winning team.

"No one understands marketing better than Michael Jordan. In many ways he created the modern sports marketing business, he together with Nike. I believe he can talk all of his personal experiences in not only marketing himself, but in creating an enormously successful brand in Brand Jordan, the Nike subsidiary. Michael knows exactly what it takes to produce a successful franchise on and off the court."

Jordan had what it takes as a player. Now, as an owner, he's putting just about everything he has on the line.

"It's his money, his reputation," Silver said, "and his passion."

Prokhorov-Nets deal on track

Silver said the New Jersey Nets sale to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov remains on track to be completed in early-to-mid April.

"It would be our hope that the deal would be completed by the Board of Governors meeting," said Silver, referring to April 16 gathering of the league's owners in New York.

Silver said the financial hurdles between Prokhorov and current Nets owner Bruce Ratner have been cleared. Issues related to the new arena in Brooklyn still need to be resolved. Ground was broken last week and the Barclays Center is scheduled to open in 2012.

"What is largely holding up the Prokhorov deal are factors outside the control of either the buyer or the seller, or the league for that matter," Silver said. "Those are various legal procedures in Brooklyn. We're only a certain number of weeks away from that deal being consummated."

Back to school

It's hardly unusual for NBA and college coaches to share ideas. Team USA's coaching staff, for instance, has been a blend of collegiate and professional coaches for years.

So it didn't come as a shock when the coaching staff at TCU attended a Mavericks practice earlier this season. The coaches from the Fort Worth campus were curious as to how an NBA practice is structured. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle willingly opened his doors.

It's just so happens it was the women's staff.

"You're starting to see more of that crossover," TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. "There's probably a greater appreciation for that than 10 years ago. The fundamentals are the same whether it's men's or women's basketball. We're just looking for a better way of doing things and that's one of the reasons for doing something like this."

The Lady Frogs are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in 10 years under Mittie. His staff picked up a few pointers during their day trip, including out-of-bounds plays, terminology and ways to study film.

"It was a great gesture by the Mavs," Mittie added. "It's something that you don't always get to do. We were down close to the floor. Rick came over to talk to us. It helped reinforce some of the things we were already doing. The amazing thing when you watch at that level is the ability of those guys to play together and make adjustments on the fly."

Carlisle's generosity isn't limited to practice. He hosted a ping-pong tournament Sunday on SMU's campus benefiting pancreatic cancer research that raised more than $70,000. Carlisle lost two close friends to pancreatic cancer last year -- former coach/mentor Chuck Daly and Indiana Pacers' co-owner Melvin Simon.

Jackson eyes coaching gig

Mark Jackson's signing with Kauffman Sports Management Group came with the full intention of the ESPN analyst eventually leaving the announcer's chair for the sidelines. Jackson has interviewed for head-coaching jobs in the past, including the Knicks and Suns.

Several jobs are expected to open up this offseason, including the Clippers and Nets. Jackson currently lives in Los Angeles, but he is a native of Queens. The former point guard enjoyed a 17-year career with seven teams and is third all-time in assists.

Jackson went straight into a broadcast career after retiring and doesn't own any coaching experience.

"I've talked to a lot of people about Mark Jackson, including Doc Rivers, Donnie Walsh and Jeff Van Gundy, and I can't find anyone who says he won't be a great head coach," agent Steve Kauffman said.

Quotable

"I don't know of any player outside of myself that has no weaknesses besides him."
-- Kobe Bryant on Brandon Roy (Yahoo! Sports)

Starting 5

1. Spurs announce promotion to pop the question at game. Nets quickly follow with quickie divorces at halftime.

2. LeBron James with the Lakers? Finally, the missing piece.

3. Do teams that lose on Noche Latina get an "EL" in the standings?

4. How did the Academy pass over Steve Nash's latest contribution to the cinematic arts?

5. Where Singular Happens: Thunder-Jazz and Magic-Heat would be first-round matchups if the playoffs started today. Only four non-plural nicknames in league.

Give-n-Go: The Nets' Devin Harris

AG: How do you keep your head up?

DH: If you look at some of the great players, there are highs and there are lows. I talked to KG [Kevin Garnett] a little bit about it in his last year in Minnesota, he went through it, obviously not to this point. Look at Jet [Jason Terry] and his years in Atlanta. A lot of people go through it. It's just how you respond and when you get that chance to compete at a high level, you have to take advantage.

AG: You never thought you'd go through something like this.

DH: No, never. God throws different changes at you and it's how you deal with it. I wasn't dealing very good at first, but as long as we're competing at the level we're doing, it's easier to cope with. It was kinda hard those first couple of months.

AG: Did you find yourself withdrawing some from your teammates?

DH: You had to at some point. We have such young players and at some point their immaturity kind of showed, but you go through those growing pains as a young player. We got it all out early and now you see a lot better locker room.

Art Garcia has covered the NBA since 1999. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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