New Hornets owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin speak to the media

The Charlotte Hornets officially officially came under new ownership today. That included a thank you letter from former majority owner Michael Jordan, who will be taking a step back to focus on other aspects of his life, though he’ll maintain a minority share of the team.

The new owners sat down with the media to answer questions from the media and said stuff to get everybody hyped for new owners, as we are wont to do. Here are some highlights from the press conference:

  • Rick Schnall first met Michael Jordan as a 35-year-old at Jordan’s fantasy basketball camp. He’s a huge lifelong basketball fan and played the sport his whole life.
  • The “single, simple goal” of the new ownership group is to make the Hornets the premier franchise in the NBA.
  • Gabe Plotkin grew up in Maine and grew up a basketball fan. His first experience with the Hornets franchise was desperately wanting a purple starter jacket as a kid.
  • Plotkin thinks the Hornets are a top 10-15 organization in the league in terms of attractiveness citing the rapid growth of the Charlotte market and the region’s passion for basketball and sports.
  • Wants to utilize the larger ownership group to help grow the Swarm to Serve community programs
  • Schnall talked about the young core of players and said the future is bright despite the disappointing season last year

Then the media got a chance to ask questions

  • Plotkin approached Schnall after Schnall invested in the Hawks. They hit it off and stayed in touch. They thought it’d be fun to go in on a team together and own a similar percentage of the team. Plotkin talked about the pair’s shared passion for basketball.
  • Plotkin praised Michael Jordan for the work he did bringing the despondent Bobcats to respectability. He’ll be around as a resource for the new majority owners if they ever need to lean on him for anything. Jordan wants to “see this thing through” and thinks big things are coming.
  • Plotkin stressed the importance of player development given the young core of the team. Talked about bringing a long term vision to the construction of the basketball team.
  • Schnall intends to spend a lot of time in Charlotte now that he owns the team. He just bought an apartment in Charlotte. They don’t intend to make any changes to the basketball operations team in the short term. “Good ownership is ownership that comes in, evaluates, works with the current team, does not make rash decisions without full evaluations.”
  • Plotkin called Spectrum Center “a little outdated” and said there are plans for renovations. They’re still learning about the current situation with the upcoming practice facility. Schnall learned from the Hawks renovating their arena and constructing their practice arena and will use that to help guide these projects. Next summer we’ll start to see major changes. Schnall emphasized that part of the agreement on the renovation projects is that the team is committed to the city of Charlotte through 2045.
  • They don’t know the future of the Hornets broadcasts yet. They expect to stay on Bally Sports through the end of the current deal that runs through 2025-26, but they’ll have alternative plans given Bally’s bankruptcy situation.
  • Plotkin talked about the importance of player development and cited the Heat’s success with undrafted players. He said it’s very important to have an attractive organization both in terms of winning and in terms of facilities and location.

You can watch the whole press conference here if you have a Bally subscription or a TV provider sign-in.

I got the impression that Schnall and Plotkin are just two dudes that love basketball and saw an opportunity to own a basketball team. They said all the right things about what’s important in running a team and seem to have a good grasp of NBA basketball. They had well prepared answers for every question and clearly have a vision for what they want the Hornets to be. All in all, it was a very impressive and encouraging press conference.

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