How Bad Ping-Pong Balls Cost Michael Jordan More Than $300 Million

Michael Jordan, former basketball star and owner of NBA team Charlotte Hornets has bad luck with the so-called draft lottery it is estimated that more than 300 million euros have been ‘lost’. His team missed out on the coveted first choice in the NBA Draft and thus misses out on the gigantic French talent Victor Wembanyama.

Michael Jordan is of course best known as perhaps the best basketball player ever. Together with Nike, he also ensured that the still very successful Air Jordans came onto the market. Less known is that Jordan has also been the main owner of NBA team Charlotte Hornets since 2010. According to reliable rumors, he would like to sell that club. It’s in that potential sale that last week’s events seriously cost Michael Jordan some money.

Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte had little success with Michael Jordan as owner. The team reached the play-offs only three times and each time it lost there in the first round. The last time the Hornets reached the final round of the NBA season dates back to the 2015-2016 season.

Last season was an even bigger disaster than other years. Due to a long injury, star player LaMelo Ball missed more than half of the season, resulting in the Hornets finishing in 14th place – out of 15 teams – in the Eastern Conference.

NBA Draft

However, those poor performances opened up a great opportunity. The NBA works completely differently than we are used to in European football, where top clubs usually receive more money and thus become increasingly dominant. American sports try much more to keep a balance between all teams. They do this, among other things, by working with a draft system. In addition, after the season, all clubs take turns choosing a player from the large group of young talents.

The teams that performed the worst the previous season are allowed to choose first. To prevent teams from deliberately losing all their games in order to get the greatest talent anyway, the NBA works with a so-called weighted draw. Teams that finished at the bottom of the standings have a better chance of getting the first choice, but they don’t necessarily get it.

More specifically, the three worst teams have a 14 percent chance of the first pick, after which that chance decreases. The team with the fourteenth worst result still has 0.5 percent on that first choice.

Victor Wembanyama

Because the Charlotte Hornets finished fourth worst with 27 wins in 82 games, they had a 12.5 percent chance of winning the NBA Draft on Tuesday, May 16. first-pick. That first choice was even more important this time than in other years.

With 19-year-old Frenchman Victor Wembanyama, a gigantic talent will be entering the NBA next season. ‘Wemby’ is (at least) 2.20 meters tall, but has the feel for the ball and the maneuverability of much smaller guards. As a result, he can not only dunk and block shots very easily, but also throw opponents into the wind from a distance and score a three-pointer. That combination is very unique. Wembanyama is therefore seen as the greatest basketball talent since LeBron James. Exactly twenty years ago, he was also the first choice in an equally hyped NBA Draft.

Victor Wembanyama 2023
Victor Wembanyama – Source: FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Financial consequences

So last Tuesday all eyes in the NBA were on the ping pong balls during the draw for the NBA Draft. The San Antonio Spurs became the big winner there, while the Charlotte Hornets can choose second on Thursday, June 22. In this way, Michael Jordan’s team misses out on the immense talent Victor Wembanyama.

This not only has sporting, but also major financial consequences. According to renowned ESPN journalist Adrian Wojnarowski, the addition of Wembanyama to a team would increase the value of that franchise by almost half a billion dollars (462 million euros).

So Michael Jordan will miss out on that amount if he really sells the Charlotte Hornets soon. That club is worth an estimated 1.7 billion euros. Jordan owns 70 percent of the franchise and can therefore hope for almost 1.2 billion euros. However – with Wembanyama is a Hornets jersey – that could have been more than 300 million euros extra.

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