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Michael Jordan’s Hornets sale leaves NBA with no Black majority team ownership

Only two people of color, Sacramento’s Vivek Ranadive and Brooklyn’s Joe Tsai, remain as majority owners

There is no longer any majority African American ownership in a predominately Black NBA with Michael Jordan’s sale of his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets.

Hornets Sports & Entertainment announced Friday that Jordan reached an agreement to sell his majority stake in the NBA franchise to the Buyer Group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall. The NBA legend’s sale of the Hornets is subject to the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. Jordan, who served as the Hornets’ chairman, was the only majority African American owner in the NBA.

The percentage of NBA players who classified as Black or African American in the league was 71.8% during the 2021-22 season, according to The 2022 Race and Gender Report Card for the NBA. The Buyer Group, however, also includes two African Americans in rapper J. Cole and Charlotte auto dealership mogul Damian Mills, as well as a woman in Amy Levine Dawson. As part of the transaction, Jordan will retain a minority ownership share of the team.

The only two people of color who now have majority ownership in an NBA team are the Sacramento Kings’ Vivek Ranadive (Indian) and the Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Tsai (a naturalized Canadian citizen who was born in Taiwan). The 2022 Race and Gender Report for the NBA also reported that 82.4% of NBA players were people of color during the 2021-22 season. African American NBA stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul have said they would like to be part of NBA ownership groups in the future. Dwyane Wade (Utah Jazz), David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs) and Grant Hill (Atlanta Hawks) are African Americans who currently have minority ownership of NBA teams while Shaquille O’Neal sold his minority stake in the Sacramento Kings in 2022. Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, who is Black, also told Andscape that he hopes to become a part of team ownership after his pending retirement.

Andscape asked NBA commissioner Adam Silver prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals about the potential lack of African American ownership in the league with Jordan’s projected sale of the Hornets. Silver responded by saying: “While [Jordan] is our only principal African American owner right now, over the years, whether it’s Grant Hill who’s come in, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal owning a piece the Sacramento Kings, that’s ongoing. I would love to have better representation in terms of principal governors. It’s a marketplace.

“It’s something that if we were expanding that the league would be in a position to focus directly on that, but in individual team transactions, the market takes us where we are. I will say I know that increasingly our governors are focused on diversity in their ownership groups just as they are in their front office, so the trend lines have been positive over the last several years.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.