Robert Johnson Awarded NBA Franchise

December 17, 2002

When the National Basketball Association's expansion committee unanimously recommended Robert Johnson to become the owner of an expansion franchise in Charlotte, it broke new ground in two areas. Charlotte became the first city to ever lose a professional sports franchise and regain one within twelve months. And Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television, became the only African-American majority owner of a major-league sports franchise.

The move also cleared the way for a new downtown arena.

The recommendation of Johnson signaled the end of one of the most divisive periods in recent history. Arena negotiations with George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge polarized the city. Civic pride took a hit when the Hornets left. And it surged again as Johnson began to put together his new franchise, called the Bobcats.