Charlotte Hornets Flashback: Larry Bird almost bought the franchise

Looking back at the Charlotte Hornets’ history, the franchise was actually almost bought by another NBA legend.

While the Charlotte Hornets are currently owned by Michael Jordan, what could’ve happened if the franchise was bought by another NBA legend? Apparently, Jordan was not the first legend interested in owning an NBA franchise in Charlotte.

Following the departure of the Hornets’ franchise in 2002, many became seriously interested in owning a new team in Charlotte. One of the most notable ownership groups that were interested included Boston Celtics’ legend, Larry Bird.

In 2002, Bird put in a bid to own the new Charlotte franchise that would be included in an expansion draft for the 2004-05 season. According to USA Today, Bird had to wait until after the 2002 playoffs to put in a bid to own the franchise.

However, Bird would not win the bid to be awarded ownership of the Charlotte franchise. Instead, the franchise was awarded to Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television. Johnson would then become the first African American majority owner in major American sports.

Following Bird’s loss in the race to own the team in Charlotte, he released a statement that was given by his agent stating that Bird was “heartbroken.” Bird’s statement also stated:

“It’s hard to realize that the dream I’ve had for so many years is not to be, and that an awesome opportunity, which would have been the greatest and most exciting challenge in my life, will not come to pass.”

After losing the bid, Bird became the Indiana Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations in 2003. Bird remained with the Pacers for almost thirteen years before stepping down in 2017. To this day, he serves as an advisor for the team.

Bird played for thirteen seasons in Boston, where he averaged 24.3 points and ten rebounds per game. Bird was also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998.

However, in today’s context, Bird will have to continue to wait for his dream of becoming an NBA franchise owner to come true. With his current role with the Pacers in mind, will Bird ever get his chance to become an owner?

Next: Will the Charlotte Hornets ever be truly represented in the Basketball Hall of Fame?

Fans have to wonder what could’ve happened if Larry Bird was awarded the franchise. Would the team be different than how it is today? Would the Charlotte Hornets brand even come back to the Queen City? These are questions that fans will continue to ask in the future.

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