by Jeff Taylor
Ho ho ho. This is good. Bob Johnson vetoes Felix Sabates off-loading his share of the Bobcats to a charity — the Carolinas HealthCare System foundation — and then tries to blame the league office for the deed. Classic.
Now, mind you, I would have probably nixed the deal also — getting mixed up with a non-profit in your ownership group, given all the disclosure mandates would be a huge headache. Especially for such a small amount of the pie — Sabates’ share of the $300 million or so Bobcats was just $1.34 million. So on the merits, no beef.
But to have your longtime lawyer tell Sabates that the NBA did not permit such things is just weak. Step up and make clear that you think it is a bad idea for the Bobcats going forward, don’t make stuff up.
Better still there is Sabates trying to spin the gift — which would clearly help Sabates’ from a tax perspective — as a great way for Johnson to get in good with Ken Lewis and Ken Thompson, both of whom sit on the foundation’s board. But why would Johnson need to do that — I thought Bank of Wachovia was all down with the Bobcats and the Uptown arena. Or does Sabates mean to suggest that the way to a banker’s heart is to give money to a favorite project or charity? Pray tell, does Charlotte really work that way? Whatever would Cindy Lou Who think?
Something tells me the Kens will be spinning back shortly.
However, the bigger picture remains the Bobcats shaky future in Charlotte. One third of the way thru the season and the Bobcats are on pace for another 20-win year. At a minimum, this off-season is shaping up as huge for the franchise in terms of being able to put an attractive team on the floor that might actually draw some fans to the Uptown arena.