New Era Underway In Buzz City

It’s official.

A new and exciting chapter of Charlotte Hornets basketball is officially underway, as a group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall has finalized a sale to acquire a majority stake in the franchise from Michael Jordan. The Hornets welcomed Plotkin and Schnall, in addition to some new minority owners, in a press conference at Spectrum Center on Thursday.

“We couldn’t be more honored to be here,” said Schnall. “We do appreciate that this is a community asset. We are in partnership with our fans, in partnership with the city. It’s our jobs to be great stewards for all of you and this city, and our obligation is to do the best job we can. We have a single, simple goal, which is to create the premier franchise in the NBA. All of us should have that expectation, and we will strive to create that for all of us as we go forward.”

The sale has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors and gives Plotkin and Schnall immediate controlling interest in Hornets Sports and Entertainment (HSE), which includes the Hornets, the Greensboro Swarm and Hornets Venom GT, in addition to the rights to manage and operate Spectrum Center. Plotkin and Schnall will serve as Co-Chairmen of HSE and will rotate the team’s governorship every five years, beginning with Schnall as Governor and Plotkin as Alternate Governor.

In addition to Plotkin and Schnall, the new ownership group includes Chris Shumway, Dan Sundheim, Ian Loring, Andrew Schwartzberg, Dyal HomeCourt Partners, North Carolina natives and musicians J. Cole and Eric Church, and several local Charlotte investors, including Amy Levine Dawson and Damian Mills, among others.

The transaction also brings an end to Jordan’s tenure, an era during which he became the first former player and the first Black man to serve as the majority owner of an NBA franchise.

“The opportunity to be the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets in my home state of North Carolina for the last 13 years has been a tremendous honor,” said Jordan. “I’m proud of all that the organization accomplished: the exciting on-court moments, the return of the Hornets name, Charlotte hosting the 2019 NBA All-Star Game and HSE becoming a true pillar of this community. Through the years, the unwavering commitment, passion and loyalty of our Hornets fans has been incredible.

“As I transition into a minority ownership role, I’m thrilled to be able to pass the reins to two successful, innovative and strategic leaders in Gabe and Rick. I know the Hornets organization is in great hands moving forward. I’m excited about the future of the team and will continue to support the organization and the community in my new role in the years ahead.” 

Both Plotkin and Schnall thanked Jordan in their opening remarks for his partnership, guidance and willingness to remain part of the team as a minority owner and alternate governor.

“The first thing I want to do is thank Michael,” said Schnall. “Michael obviously is the greatest basketball player of all time. He’s been an incredible partner to us during this negotiation, and he’s obviously set this business up for future success, so we want to thank him for all that he’s done for the franchise.”

Plotkin and Schnall bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Hornets, both in business and in basketball. Plotkin is the founder and chief investment officer of Tallwoods Capital LLC, and he has served as an alternate governor on the NBA Board of Governors since 2019, when he acquired a minority stake in the Hornets. Schnall was a minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks and an alternate governor on the NBA Board of Governors since 2015, and he is the co-president of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC.

Given his familiarity with Buzz City, Plotkin spoke directly to the fans, stating his desire to build a winner on the court while making a difference in the community off the court.

“Winning takes a lot of parts – it takes a lot of structure, it takes a lot of process and it doesn’t happen overnight,” said Plotkin. “You have to build the right foundation for success, and we’ll be really patient owners. We’ll try to position the business for success over the long term and try to make smart decisions. …We have a really great culture focused on integrity and teamwork and respect, openness and transparency, and a desire to win. Our goal here is to win.

“One thing I also think this team has done a great job of and something we want to continue to do is impact the community. I think with a new, incoming, larger ownership group, we have the ability to grow and continue to impact the lives of those in the community who are less fortunate. That’s something that we’ll be focused on.”

Schnall echoed many of those same sentiments, while also reiterating his excitement and commitment to building on the strong foundation that Jordan laid.

“Basketball is the greatest sport in the world, and it’s been a huge part of my life,” said Schnall. “To be able to do this as a governor representing the city of Charlotte, it is incredibly exciting to me. …Charlotte is an incredible sports town – it’s a basketball state and a basketball town. It’s great to be involved in a place where there’s so much passion for basketball and so much passion for the Hornets. We’re committed to investing in this franchise.”

With new ownership on board and grand plans on the horizon, the future is bright in Buzz City.