Monday, March 22nd, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  34 responses

Bob Johnson Rips Charlotte’s Business Community

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

During his introductory press conference as the new majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Jordan talked a lot about building bridges with season ticket holders, casual fans, and especially local businesses.

It’s the right (and smart) thing to do, and one that thanks to former owner Bob Johnson, will now become a lot tougher for MJ to accomplish. Johnson, apparently still bitter over losing untold sums of money on the Bobcats, ripped the business community in Charlotte for having failed to support his struggling franchise.

The Observer reports that Johnson, ironically made the biting remarks minutes after he was presented with an award by those businesses:

Days after selling the Charlotte Bobcats, Bob Johnson called Charlotte’s business community “arrogant” and “incestuous” and said the city doesn’t do enough for existing and potential minority-owned business.

“Charlotte is a very, how would I call it, close-knit, arrogant, sometimes incestuous town … It’s close-knit, and if you come to this town, and you look like you’re one of those people that might break some glass … it’s going to be tough for them to relate to.

“The thing that concerns me is that I’m just surprised that the city doesn’t do more for African-American small businesses. And I don’t really understand that.”

Jordan is off to a good start with the locals, having written an open letter to the city, and the media seems to be on his side. Can you blame them, after having dealt with Bob Johnson all these years?

Here’s to hoping things turn out better for Mike in Charlotte than they did for Bob.

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  • http://jayemmbee.blogspot.com/ ClutchPerformer

    seriously though guy is a baby, MJ was more or less the face of the team and he didnt even own it yet. you get what you put in, throwing money at things doesnt solve all problems

  • Ken

    After George Shinn, I can’t blame them for being skeptical with NBA teams. But yeah, this can’t help Jordan.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    I think Bob’s comments will help Jordan and other minority business’s as well. For one the fact that he made the comments so publicly brings more eyes on the city to find out if they hold any merit. I think it’s interesting that the Mayor didn’t disagree with Bob about the support of minority business in Charlotte, instead he said that he sees evidence that it’s getting better. (which to me means that yep it’s been messed-up but we are trying to fix it). Bob’s comments also help Jordan because he now has an even bigger opportunity to show how diffrent the team ownership is now compared to what it use to be. IF Jordan really reaches out to the community, he (and them) have every opportunity to be and show how ‘this is now’ and ‘that was then’.

  • lucas

    Uh, isn’t that why the Hornets left in the first place?

  • SoVain

    At the end of the day, If the team wins, its subsides all of the financial troubles they are having. The Atlanta Hawks are a prime example. They werent winning and businesses didnt want to invest. Now, a couple winning years and people are buying into them. Also, Charlotte isnt your D.C, NY, LA. They have to prove themselves.

  • LA Huey

    Well, after what George Shinn did, it’d be like blaming Rhianna for having trust issues after she got Chris Breezied upside her head.

  • Ny-Rock

    ROFL @ Chris Breezied!

    F***k Bob Johnson…..after what he did to BET -rather the oppourtunites he wasted @ BET he should be the scrooge of the collective Black community.

    I wish Money Mike success – hope he learned from his debacle in DC!

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    If the team continues to get better, folks will jump on board.

  • Largo

    I wish I was a billionaire so I could say what I wanted to. On to the next one for Bob.

  • Rob

    If Charlotte’s business community is arrogant, MJ will feel right at home. Being arrogant is not necessarily a bad thing. If you understand how to deal with it you can transform it into success. I’m sure MJ’s gonna do really good.

  • The Philosopher

    If I lost all of that money, and had the ego Johnson has, maybe I’d be a little bitter too. One can’t lose that kind of money and not be upset. I think his ego is scarred.

  • LA Huey

    And my commment was about the Charlotte community… And if Larry Brown can stave off his nomadic tendencies for a couple years, I see this squad being like the Hawks: not a championship contender but capable of derailing any conference heavyweight in the playoffs.

  • JD

    Arrogant? they didn’t name their franchise after themselves

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    Bob is just so _____.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    I am not gonna disagree with Bob on this because i dont know the facts about who owns what. Ive been to charlotte many times and have never thought about asking who owns what. But we all must remember this is the south, and unforunatly the south is known for ‘putting people in their places’. But that is changing now. I will just use the quote Anthony Fox said to explain what i mean: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that our city’s leadership base is broadening,”Foxx said. “What used to be a small group of people leading a large population is now becoming a larger group of people leading even a larger population. Just by nature of the fact that there are more voices at the table. I think you’ll see a lot of opportunities emerge.”

  • make room

    this is why i don’t get these guys buying these teams they don’t make any money. bob johnson is not the only one who is losing money all these guys are. the nba system is out of whack and i’m the type of dude that wants to see everybody get their cheese but something needs to be done

  • T-Money

    Actually, aren’t people still not giving a eff about the Hawks even though they’re winning like crazy?

  • Craven Moorehead

    I don’t think watching basketball is a black or white or minority issue. Frankly, pro bball outside of the big cities (LA, Miami, NYC, Chi) is really not that interesting. Who wants to pay big dollars to support the lifestyle of these players anyhow. I think pro basketball in general is failing (they need to reset the compensation structure and to match the lowered revenues).

  • Craven Moorehead

    I don’t think watching basketball is a black or white or minority issue. Frankly, pro bball outside of the big cities (LA, Miami, NYC, Chi) is really not that interesting. Who wants to pay big dollars to support the lifestyle of these players anyhow. I think pro basketball in general is failing (they need to reset the compensation structure and to match the lowered revenues).

  • ClydeSays

    TMoney, good point about the Hawks, but I think it takes a history of winning to pull in fans, not 2 or 3 seasons. How long were the Hawks regulars at the lottery? 10 yrs? Fans don’t forget that overnight.

    As far as Charlotte goes, I don’t think Johnson’s comments were all that controversial. If the Bobcats are doing community outreach and integrating themselves with local businesses, shouldn’t area fans & businesses reciprocate?

  • Mindless1

    I just want to state that the reason Bob had such a hard time getting support for his team is because we as Charlottians voted no to getting that team on several occasions. The Hornets left because we would not build them a new coliseum. Bob got the new coliseum that was smaller than the old one. Yeah he really got absolutely no support in Charlotte.

  • The Philosopher

    I was going to say this before, but… in the South, when you’re an out-of-towner, they don’t receive an “outsider” as easily. Especially when you’re as cocky as Bob Johnson. I can imagine them looking at Johnson like he was crazy. All of the time. One can’t go down there and think it’s all about him. The people down there have been running things for a trillion years. Johnson is finding out the hard way.

  • The Philosopher

    The thing with Johnson, I think, is that he went in there thinking he was the greatest thing since sliced bread, when in reality, the Southern folks let him know that he was not. Johnson has an ego that surpasses most “superstars”. Does one think that that auora wouldn’t rub people the wrong way? Of course they’re not interested in Bob Johnson. If Bird would have gotten that team (before Johnson), I think things would have turned out quite differently. Bird, see, is a basketball guy, and money doesn’t seem to faze him.

  • The Philosopher

    And as some, most, or all of us know, Bird was in line to own the team, but… anyways, the team should be in great hands now. In basketball, Michael Jordan is MICHAEL JORDAN,

  • BostonBaller

    Did someone say this would be difficult for MJ? will MJ see this as a challenge? If the answer is yes to one of those questions then MJ will be successful b/c we all know that he loves a challenge.

  • Ayiyiyiyiyiyi

    BostonBaller, he’s being challenged as an executive not a player. Go figure.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    He probably has a point about minority-owned small businesses, but the Charlotte Freaking Bobcats are NOT a “small business.”

  • Andre

    Good points, especially here in Atlanta. I am only 26 and I’ve been a Hawks fan my whole life. I’ve dealt with horrendous teams, bad trades, bad lottery picks, I’m still here as a fan. A lot of fans left. They couldn’t put up with all that mess. Charlotte should look at themselves. There was a reason why the Hornets left, and if they aren’t careful. Jordan might take his team up north to Raleigh.

  • http://dgcoursereview.com Bro D.

    Oh, go find a new venue for your pony show.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    ^ Watch out, Raleigh. Bob Johnson is coming to town!

  • chintao

    MJ’s gonna’ flop. People want to talk about BoJo’s ego? Get real. If ego trippin’ is what hindered the Bob’s Cats, the team surely will deteriorate under Jordan. Within five years, I bet this team is back on the auction block.

  • Th3_R3al_Chris

    Bob Johnson’s ego needed to be put in check when he named the team after HIMSELF. Him talking about arrogance is like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    It’s interesting that throughout his years at BET and other business ventures I’d never heard Bob Johnson being described as having a big ego, now that this self-made billionaire is calling out the cities support of minority business in Charlotte he has an ego. I would not consider naming a team after myself an ego thing, Paul Brown did that and he was cosidered a great guy. MJ has been known to have an ego and from a business perspective has never managed anything. So, it’s hard for me to see the teams business affairs greatly improving when you move it from a proven business man to a famous athlete who believed that Kwame Brown and A. Morrsion were future NBA greats. Looking at Bob Johnson’s entire track record I tend to believe his perspective – not that he should have announced it, but that doesn’t make it any less ‘real’ and honest.

  • kevin

    Bob Johnson is an idiot. Its the NBA’s fault for giving the franchise to someone just so it could have a minority owner rather then giving it to someone who has proven their worthy and someone who knows the business very well (Larry Bird). I think this is a lesson everyone can learn from. You give opportunities to those who deserve it, not those who make you look like you care about a senseless cause.