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Somebody prep LeBron James' Mirror of Somber Introspection — as it turns out, he won't accomplish his long-since-established goal of becoming the first billionaire athlete. He's been beaten to the top of that particular mountain of cash by — who else? — Michael Jordan.
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Forbes estimated back in June that Jordan, 52, had joined the ranks of the billionaires after increasing his stake in the Charlotte Hornets — the franchise in which he purchased a majority interest for $275 million in March of 2010, back when they were the Bobcats — from 80 percent to 89.5 percent. On Monday, the magazine confirmed Jordan's status as one of the world's 290 new billionaires, which sure must represent a nice cherry on top of the Hornets' 98-83 Sunday win over the Orlando Magic for Charlotte's Hall of Fame boss. From Forbes' Dan Alexander:
The most famous rookie on the billionaires list? Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and indisputably the best-paid athlete of all time. Most of his cash comes from Nike payouts on his iconic brand. The Jordan brand grossed an estimated $2.25 billion in 2013, earning his Airness some $90 million. But his most valuable asset is his stake in the Charlotte Hornets, worth more than $500 million. When ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for a stunning $2 billion, values of all NBA teams skyrocketed, creating three new billionaires. Jordan’s old boss Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls, joined the list with a fortune of $1.3 billion, and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander boosted his net worth to $1.6 billion.
As a matter of fact, as ProBasketballTalk's Dan Feldman notes, a whopping 18 NBA owners — a majority of the 30-team league — pop up on Forbes' list — 19 if you include James L. Dolan of the New York Knicks, whose individual net worth falls shy of 10 figures, but whose family fortune exceeds $4 billion.
That seems like the sort of thing that National Basketball Player's Association Executive Director Michele Roberts might file away for future discussions with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about how one-third of NBA teams are still losing money ... especially considering these net-worth evaluations come before the owners' coffers get reloaded with their share of the league's new $24 billion media rights deal. Saying the nay-no to cap smoothing, one would suspect, is just the tip of the iceberg when those negotiations open up.
But let us not sully this lovely moment by considering impending labor doom. Let us instead congratulate Michael Jordan on becoming the 513th richest person in America, and let us allow our minds to wander as we contemplate Michael Jordan's reaction to learning he ranks 513th in anything, even if the category is "being obscenely rich." (Basically, watch your backs, other billionaires.)
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