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Brown wants to remain tied to Jordan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown would
be "nervous" if an ownership change stripped Michael Jordan of
his role running the team's basketball operations.

Brown said Friday that he hasn't spoken to majority owner Bob
Johnson, who is looking to sell after losing millions of dollars.
Jordan owns a minority stake, but Johnson has granted him the final
say on basketball personnel decisions. Jordan hired Brown before
last season.

Jordan, who gave Brown his record-ninth NBA head coaching job
before last season, said in February that he'd like to someday
become majority owner. But Jordan has declined to address Johnson's
desire to sell since, and there are questions if Jordan would agree
to pay what Johnson wants.

A different owner might force Jordan out of his position or
demand he first pay more for a larger stake in the team.

"If Michael is not involved I'd be nervous about that," Brown
said after putting six prospects through a draft workout. "I came
here because of Michael. He's special and he's great to be around.
We need him engaged and involved.

"If he's gone, he's the guy who hired me. I don't know."

Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television and the
first black majority owner of a major professional sports team,
paid $300 million for the expansion franchise. The team began play
in the 2004-05 season and replaced the Hornets, who moved to New
Orleans in 2002.

Johnson, who declined an interview request Friday, is using a
New York-based sports financial services firm to seek additional
investors. The team has downplayed the prospects of Johnson giving
up majority control. But speaking at a news conference in Los
Angeles on Thursday, NBA commissioner David Stern hinted a sale is
likely.

"I don't know what Michael's plans are but I do know that
Charlotte is an extraordinary market," Stern said. "They led our
league in attendance for many, many years. It's got a terrific new
building.

"And I'm sure that whoever the next owner is will fully realize
the potential of the market based upon a very good start that Bob
has made in bringing basketball back to Charlotte."

Johnson has suffered several missteps, including a failed
endeavor to start a regional sports network. Ticket sales had been
tepid as fans still hold misgivings about the NBA after the
Hornets' stormy departure. Johnson has struggled to make friends in
the business community and sponsorship sales have lagged.

Johnson has overhauled the front office and before last season
laid off 38 people in non-basketball operations jobs.

This year, though, the basketball budget is being targeted. The
team will no longer field a summer league team and will hold
training camp at home instead of in Jordan's hometown of
Wilmington, N.C.

"Obviously there have been a lot of cuts," Brown said.
"Summer league, we're not going to go away for training camp, so
it impacts us a lot what's going on. All we can do is get our team
ready."

Brown, a Hall of Famer and the only coach to win an NCAA and NBA
title, has a history of not staying in one job long. His ties with
Jordan, a fellow North Carolina alumnus, led him to resume his
career in Charlotte after one ugly season with New York in 2005-06
left him out of coaching.

Brown guided the Bobcats to a 35-47 record this season after
three trades dramatically changed the makeup of the team. The
Bobcats, who hold the 12th pick in this month's draft, hope they
can reach the playoffs for the first time next season amid
uncertainty at the top.

"You don't know who's coming in here and how they feel about
the job we did or our capabilities," Brown said. "But I have no
control over that."