Jordan completes sale of NBA’s Hornets

Rick Schnall (L) and Gabe Plotkin (R)

Featured image credit: Charlotte Hornets

Rick Schnall (L) and Gabe Plotkin (R)

Featured image credit: Charlotte Hornets

NBA legend Michael Jordan’s tenure as majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets is over after a group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall completed a reported $3bn (£2.36bn/€2.74bn) takeover of the franchise.

Hornets Sports & Entertainment (HSE) announced yesterday (Thursday) that the sale of the majority stake in the Hornets from Jordan had been finalised. The sale, which was reported to have been approved by the NBA Board of Governors last month, immediately gives Plotkin and Schnall the controlling interest in the franchise.

Schnall, who will serve as co-chairman and governor, had been a minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks and an alternate governor on the NBA Board of Governors since 2015. While with Atlanta, Schnall was involved in various aspects of the Hawks team building process as well as the renovations to State Farm Arena. Schnall is co-president of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, where he has worked for 27 years.

Plotkin, who will serve as co-chairman and alternate governor, originally acquired a minority stake in the Hornets in 2019. He has been an alternate governor on the NBA Board of Governors since 2019. Plotkin is the founder and chief investment officer of Tallwoods Capital LLC.

Jordan has served as majority owner of the Hornets since 2010, when he paid Bob Johnson around $180m to gain majority control of the then-named Charlotte Bobcats. Jordan acquired roughly 65% of the expansion franchise’s equity from Johnson. Jordan will retain a minority ownership share of the team and will also serve as alternate governor.

Along with the Hornets, HSE ownership includes the Greensboro Swarm (NBA G League) and Hornets Venom GT (NBA 2K League), as well as managing and operating Spectrum Center, each of which is included as part of the sale.

In June 2022, the City of Charlotte voted to approve $173m in renovations to Spectrum Center, plus additional upgrades worth $42m, in a deal that will see the Hornets continue to play at the arena until 2045.

Plotkin and Schnall will serve as co-chairmen of HSE and will rotate the team’s governorship every five years, beginning with Schnall. They said yesterday: “Our vision is to take the Hornets to the next level, both on and off the court.

“We will look to build a highly competitive basketball team, develop innovative business practices, give back to our community and connect with our fans. We plan to further invest in the team, the facilities and the fan experience, with the goal of delivering a winner to our fans throughout the Carolinas.

“We are confident that our successful business backgrounds and our previous experience as NBA minority owners will be beneficial as we shape the future of the franchise as a best-in-class organisation.” 

Jordan added: “Thirteen years ago, I had the honor of becoming the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. The chance to own the NBA franchise in my home state and a city I love was truly a dream come true.

“As Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall, and their ownership group, now take a controlling stake in the team, and I transition to becoming a minority owner, I want to say Thank You to Hornets fans for all the love and dedication you’ve shown the franchise and to me over the years. 

“We’ve had some unforgettable moments together, as well as a few challenging ones, but through it all, you’ve remained committed to us.”