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His airness will soThe NBA has signed off on Michael Jordan's bid to buy the Charlotte Bobcats, and commissioner David Stern expects the league's board of governors to approve the purchase by the end of next week.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Stern said he expects the vote to pass "very easily." Jordan will become the first former player to own an NBA team and the second black majority owner. He'll replace the first, Bob Johnson, who has lost tens of millions of dollars annually.
"He considers himself a North Carolina native and he's quite anxious to make this team into an important part of the community," Stern said. "I think he has the capacity and the will to do that. I think he's the right majority owner at the right time."
Stern said the league updated its background and financial checks on Jordan and found nothing to stop the deal. Stern said the six-time NBA champion is the sole investor in the ownership group for now, but expects him to try to find local partners.
Jordan is putting up all the cash in the deal, which is for $275 million, less than the $300 million Johnson paid for the expansion team that began play in 2004.
"I think it's fair to say he can afford it," Stern said.
The deal includes taking on more than $150 million in debt, covering future losses and putting millions more in capital to make improvements. The Bobcats are expected to lose about $30 million this season.
"There is going to be assumptions of debt, other obligations and infusions of cash to make sure the team can compete and continue this turnaround," Stern said.
Jordan has declined interview requests, saying through a team spokesman he'll speak once he's approved as owner.
The 47-year-old NBA superstar has been a part-owner of the Bobcats and has had the final say on all basketball decisions since 2006. It was a return home for Jordan, who grew up in Wilmington, and led the University of North Carolina to the U.S. college championship before winning five league MVP awards with the Chicago Bulls.
The deal means the end of a money-losing run for Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television. The Bobcats have struggled to sell tickets and secure sponsorships since the NBA returned to Charlotte following the Hornets' departure to New Orleans in 2002.
"I have no doubt it can become successful again," Stern said, referring to NBA's presence in Charlotte. "And I think that given Michael's determination and his business skills, that the turnaround that has begun as a business matter will continue very much so. Not simply on his watch, but driven by him."