The NBA notebook …
CHARLOTTE ó After losing tens of millions of dollars, the first black majority owner of a major professional sports team is exploring selling the Charlotte Bobcats.
Bob Johnson’s decision could pave the way for minority investor Michael Jordan to take control of the team ó if he’s willing to meet Johnson’s price.
The NBA confirmed Friday that Johnson is using a New York-based sports financial services firm to seek additional investors. Jordan said in February that he’d be interested in someday getting majority control of the team.
Johnson and Jordan did not immediately respond to requests for interviews on Friday through team spokesmen.
The Charlotte Observer first reported Thursday that Johnson is using Galatioto Sports Partners to help with a potential sale. The firm, which Johnson used to assemble his initial group of minority investors, includes former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik.
“We are aware that Bob Johnson is looking for additional investors, and has retained Galatioto to assist that effort,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.
Johnson’s ownership of the team has been rocky since he paid the NBA $300 million for the expansion franchise in 2003, just over a year after the Hornets left Charlotte for New Orleans.
The founder of Black Entertainment Television hasn’t come close to turning a profit because of poor attendance, lagging sponsorship sales and a failed attempt to start a regional sports television network.
Johnson could find a buyer in Jordan, who bought a minority stake in the team in 2006. Johnson then gave Jordan total control of the basketball operations.
In February, Jordan said he’d like to increase his stake in the team.
“My interest to grow as an investor is still strong,” said Jordan, who was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last month. “Purchasing the whole team I don’t think that’s an option right now. But if parts of the team become available, financially, if I can afford it, I’d definitely like to grow my investment.”
Finding an agreeable price may not be easy. Forbes magazine recently valued the team at $284 million, less than Johnson’s expansion fee. The team plays in a city hard hit by the financial crisis, and the credit crunch could hurt any deal of that magnitude.
However, the team also keeps all profits from the downtown Charlotte arena it operates and the Bobcats have improved on the court. Jordan hired Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown last year and he guided the Bobcats to a 35-47 record, the best in the franchise’s five seasons.
NOWITZKI SOAP OPERA
DALLAS ó A lawyer for Dirk Nowitzki says he doubts a woman’s claim that she is pregnant with the Dallas Mavericks star’s baby.
Christa Ann Taylor, 37, told The Dallas Morning News in an interview from jail this week that Nowitzki was her fiance and that she learned she was pregnant after she was arrested at his house on a probation violation and theft of services warrants.
Robert Hart, Nowitzki’s Dallas-based lawyer, said in a statement released to ESPN.com on Thursday, “If in the remote instance there is any validity to this woman’s claim of pregnancy, Dirk will do whatever can be done to ensure the well being of the child.”
Don Duesler, Taylor’s court-appointed lawyer, declined to comment on the pregnancy issue. Taylor, who authorities say has at least eight aliases, remained in jail in Beaumont on Friday.
Taylor said in a telephone interview with the Morning News that she and Nowitzki were to be married in July. She said she learned of her pregnancy after getting tested when admitted to the Dallas jail, but Hart said “we have been told” that she hadn’t received a pregnancy test.
Privacy laws prevent officials from releasing medical records. Dallas County jail officials say pregnancy tests are not automatically given to prisoners but are sometimes administered if the prisoner’s statements or pre-existing conditions warrant them.
After Taylor’s arrest May 6, a woman identifying herself as Taylor’s best friend was telling media outlets that Taylor was pregnant with Nowitzki’s baby.
76ERSPHILADELPHIA ó Chris Ford, a pro scout with the Philadelphia 76ers who was interim coach five years ago, has interviewed for the team’s head coaching job.
Ford has head coaching experience with the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers and 76ers. His longest stint was five seasons with the Celtics from 1990-95, where he compiled a 222-188 record, his shortest run a 12-18 mark as interim coach of the Sixers in 2003-04. Ford played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Celtics and Detroit Pistons and was a member of the Boston’s 1981 championship team.
MAVERICKSDALLAS ó Mavericks forward Josh Howard underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to his left wrist and left ankle in New York.
By Katie Scarvey firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Toth is back in the movies again. The artist recently received a call from Columbia... read more