I need to make one thing clear - this is heavy speculation based on one sentence. But it’s a sentence from a guy who often drops hints he knows stuff about but can’t make it official yet.
In his latest podcast episode, Bill Simmons broke down his reasoning for predicting the Suns will be sold for $4.7 billion (in the $4.5 to $5 billion range.) Discussing the impact of such a price, if it happens, Simmons mentioned something very interesting.
Is Michael Jordan selling the Charlotte Hornets???
Simmons added that” you would’ve tied them [Charlotte] close to the Minnesota price, but now who knows.” He spoke about it like it’s common knowledge, and I don’t know if I missed the memo, but is Michael Jordan selling the Hornets?
To be fair, Simmons did say millions instead of billions more than once on this podcast, so this might be his self-diagnosed name dyslexia. That being said, there are no other teams that are for sale, so there’s no one to mistake the Hornets for.
Googling this, I was reminded that Jordan sold a stake in the team a few years ago. The percentage and price were not disclosed, but anytime a 100% owner brings someone in, it’s either because they need the money, or they are preparing someone to enter the world of NBA ownership. As far as we know, MJ is doing better than ever financially.
Joe Lacob was first a minority owner of the Celtics before purchasing the Warriors. Vivek Ranadive was a minority owner of the Warriors before purchasing the Kings. Being a minority owner first makes it much easier to purchase a team in the future, especially if you’re just buying up the team you are already a shareholder in.
Who did MJ sell to?
MJ sold a part of the Hornets to Gabriel Plotkin and Daniel Sundheim, two Wall Street hedge fund guys. The reports at the time of the sale said Jordan sold “a small stake” and that he plans to stay on as a majority owner for” a very long time.”
According to Forbes, Sundheim has a personal net worth of $2.9 billion. (Here’s an insane digression for you - according to Forbes’ rankings, that makes him the 953rd richest man in the world today. The poor guy barely cracked the top 1000.) Plotkin, on the other hand, is “only” estimated to be worth around $400 million. The two of them together should have enough to buy MJ out, but there is a but.
They purchased the stake in 2019, at the peak of their financial power. Plotkin started his fund Melvin Capital in 2014, and Sundheim founded D1 Capital in 2018 - both reporting insane double-digit returns up to 2021. We’re talking 30-40% a year. Something about the FED printing boatloads of money combined with all sorts of financial shenanigans just does wonders for a man’s net worth.
But, in January 2021, a group of Apes started buying GameStop stock (buy, hold, DRS; this is not financial advice), and Plotkin and Sundheim were in trouble. Melvin Capital lost around $7 billion in January 2021, losing over a billion in just one day. The story ended with Plotkin closing down Melvin Capital in May 2022. Sundheim’s fund lost $4 billion on GameStop and other short positions, but given the fact he was managing over $20 billion, the fund survived.
History teaches us guys like this usually lose other people’s money and somehow make it out with a boatload of cash. But if” Charlotte is going to become available” as Simmons said, and the starting price for any NBA team is $2 billion, it could be too rich for Plotkin and Sundheim’s blood.
Again, this is all wild speculation based on a couple of sentences, but given the lack of success in Charlotte and focusing more on philanthropy in recent times, maybe MJ is considering cashing out and devoting his time to other things.