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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Michael Jordan Is Finally Finding Success As a Team Owner

  • Jordan was in Talladega to see his racing team win for the first time in person.
  • Tyler Reddick’s victory was the sixth for 23XI since it launched in 2021.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Micahel Jordan may have found his next act.

Jordan’s young tenure as a NASCAR team owner is already notably more successful than his time owning an NBA team—and he’s not trying to hide his excitement about the rubber-burning passion. Tyler Reddick’s victory at Talladega on Sunday marked the first time His Airness was in attendance for a race won by one of the drivers at his majority-owned 23XI Racing, which launched in 2021. “This is, to me, like an NBA playoff game,” Jordan said in an interview with Fox Sports from Victory Lane. “I am so ecstatic.” 

In total, 23XI has won six NASCAR Cup Series races on the backs of Reddick, Bubba Wallace, and former team member Kurt Busch. “We’ve been working hard, trying to get ourselves up to compete against all the top guys in this sport,” added Jordan, who won six NBA championships with the Bulls. “But we’ve done a heck of a job just to be where we are. And for us to win a big race like this, it means so much to me.”

Jordan and fellow 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin spent roughly $20 million to acquire the charters of the Nos. 23 and 45 cars, according to the team’s website. They also funded the construction of a 114,000-square-foot team facility near Charlotte dubbed Airspeed. That investment hasn’t been disclosed, but Hamlin has said it cost twice as much as originally budgeted.

Stuck in Neutral No More

Jordan’s success in stock car racing represents a stark contrast to his time in the NBA ownership ranks. 

As the majority owner for 13 years in Charlotte, Jordan’s franchise never won a playoff series. He did spearhead the removal of the Bobcats nickname and return of the much more popular Hornets moniker, while securing key arena upgrades to keep the NBA in the Tar Heel State long term. But, by the time Jordan sold his majority stake last summer in a deal that valued the team at $3 billion, the Hornets had missed seven consecutive postseasons. 

In between his second and third (and final) retirements from playing, Jordan was a co-owner of the Washington Wizards, with full control of basketball operations. His teams never had a winning record or made the playoffs.

Critics often questioned Jordan’s commitment to being an NBA team owner—and he rarely spoke publicly about his role. NASCAR fans are seeing a different side of him, though. “I’m all in,” Jordan said after Sunday’s win. “I love it. It replaces a lot of the competitiveness that I had in basketball.” That checks out—from the on-track success to his increasing involvement at 23XI—and the sport should be better for it.

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