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Jordan Wants To Buy Hornets

Michael Jordan is negotiating to buy a share of the Charlotte Hornets, NBA officials confirmed Saturday.

The league released a statement Saturday morning from commissioner David Stern, who said Jordan has been talking with Charlotte owner George Shinn about purchasing a 50-percent share of the team.

"There have been preliminary discussions about Michael and George becoming equal partners in the ownership and operation of the Hornets," Stern's statement said. "Those discussions are ongoing but are not near an agreement."

Shinn also released a statement saying he was hopeful of completing a deal with Jordan, who retired from the Chicago Bulls earlier this year.

"There have been preliminary discussions about Michael Jordan possibly becoming an ownership partner with me," Shinn said. "Our hope over the next few meetings is to work out a partnership that will benefit the Hornets and the entire community."

Neither Jordan nor his agent, David Falk, could be immediately reached for comment.

Shinn, who was part of the original ownership group when the Hornets joined the NBA in 1988, has come under increasing fire recently to sell the club.

The Hornets have lost several high-profile players because of the team's refusal to pay eight-figure salaries, and attendance has been on a steady decline in the past two seasons.

Coach Dave Cowens quit in frustration earlier this month and Shinn, who is the defendant in a sexual misconduct lawsuit in South Carolina, rarely attends games anymore. He sat in the stands for Friday night's victory over Orlando but refused to speak to reporters.

Shinn's wife has filed for divorce.

Into the mix steps Jordan, who in January ended his 13-year career with six championships, five MVP awards, 10 scoring titles and unsurpassed worldwide fame.

With an annual off-court income estimated at $45 million, Jordan could afford to buy a piece of a team with an estimated worth of $150 million.

Buying into the Hornets also would put Jordan closer to his childhood roots. He is a North Carolina native who was raised in Wilmington and played for North Carolina's Tar Heels. His mother lives in Charlotte.

"This could work out great for everybody," said a Hornets employee who spoke Saturday on the condition of anonymity. "This could help George solve his image problem, give Michael something to do in retirement and give the team a boost at the same time."

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