Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player ever; his Airness holds almost every record possible. His abilities on the courts are legendary. Now that he is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, can he perform similar magic in making the Bobcats winners as he did with the Chicago Bulls?
As a basketball star and sharp promoter, Michael made millions. As an owner, he can either make millions more or lose much of his fortune. The clock is ticking.
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- 3 and 3: Michael won two three-peat NBA championships each time with the Chicago Bulls. The first three came in 1991, 1992 and 1993. The next three were in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He won the NBA finals MVP award six times.
- 5 and 10: Five Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards and 10 All-NBA First Team designations.
- 30.12 and 33.45: Over his career Michael averaged 30.12 points per game, the highest ever. He also holds the career playoff scoring average with 33.45 points per game.
- 1984: Drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the first round with their third pick in the 1984 NBA draft.
- 1985: Nike introduced the Air Jordan sneaker in 1985, helping to drive the success of the Nike Company (NYSE:NKE). The Jordan brand generates hundreds of millions in sales for Nike.
- $500 million: The reported net worth of Michael Jordan before his divorce. Michael earned more than $90 million in salary as a player. The rest of his income came from endorsements with such brands as Nike, Gatorade, Wheaties, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Chevrolet, Rayovac and Hanes (NYSE:HBI). He remains a spokesperson for several of these companies today.
- $278 million: The value Forbes placed on the Charlotte Bobcats in December 2009 before Michael Jordan bought the remaining portion of the team he did not own. Bob Johnson, the owner then, was under pressure from his creditors to sell the team.
- $175 million: According to Forbes, this is the price Michael paid for the Charlotte Bobcats. He also assumed about $150 million in debt. Jordan will have to turn around the money losing operation quickly as Michael does not have the deep pockets of many NBA owners who are billionaires.
Jordan has a mixed record building a competitive team. While an executive with the Washington Wizards, he drafted Kwame Brown number one overall in the 2001 draft. As a part owner and rumored to have a significant say on basketball decisions for the Bobcats, in 2006 he selected Adam Morrison with his third pick in the draft. Both were disappointing picks. However, the Bobcats made the 2010 NBA playoffs, an indication that Michael's basketball decisions and more importantly the team are improving. Now he must address the bottom line of the franchise as well. (Learn more about athletes owning sports franchises, read Sports CEOs: For Better Or For Worse.)
The real key to Michael's success in Charlotte is if he can reverse the outflow of cash. Jordan is a hero in North Carolina. To turnaround the Bobcats fortunes, he needs to leverage his public reputation while operating the team as a business. Watch the attendance figures for the 2010-2011 season. If they reach the 19,000+ capacity of the TimeWarner Cable Arena, Michael is on his way to being a winner again. (For more, see For Athletes, Is There Life After Sports?)
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