|Sunday, June 29
Updated: July 2, 2:41 PM ET
'Detailed discussions' with Jordan prove fruitless
ESPN.com news services
Kohl, the Bucks owner and U.S. senator from Wisconsin, announced that he is pulling his team off the market.
In a statement released Sunday, Kohl said: "I have decided not to sell the Milwaukee Bucks at this time, and will continue to own them, improve them, and commit them to remaining in Wisconsin."
Kohl, a Milwaukee native who has owned the team since 1985, acknowledged that he had "detailed discussions" with Jordan, who wants to own a team after retiring in Washington as a player two months ago.
The deal apparently was close to getting done, although it still would have needed the NBA's approval, a process that could have taken several weeks.
ESPN.com reported earlier this week that the two sides had reached a tentative agreement, and that Jordan's influence might even be felt at last Thursday's NBA draft, in which the Bucks selected Texas guard T.J. Ford with the eighth overall pick. The Washington Post reported that the league and the Bucks would soon acknowledge the sale.
But ultimately, Kohl refused to pull the trigger.
"I must say that I enjoyed those conversations and was pleased with Michael's commitment of substantial personal time and personal financial resources to the proposed transaction," Kohl said in his statement. "I was also impressed with the quality of the professionals that he was prepared to engage had we gone forward, as well as his willingness to make every effort to keep the team in Wisconsin.
"I think Michael will be an excellent owner of an NBA franchise and have encouraged him, for the benefit of the NBA, to continue his consideration of such an investment. On balance, I simply decided that I am not yet prepared to sell the team at this time and have instructed my representatives, accordingly."
Messages left with Jordan's spokeswoman, Estee Portnoy, were not immediately returned Sunday. Bucks spokeswoman Cheri Hanson said no one was available to comment further.
Jordan is a five-time NBA most valuable player and was a member of six Chicago Bulls championship teams. He retired as a player in October 1993, came back in March 1995, and retired again in January 1999.
Jordan joined the Washington Wizards in January 2000 as an executive and part owner. But he gave up his ownership stake, as NBA rules required, to return to the court as a Wizards player in September 2001, then played two seasons for Washington before retiring again after last season.
Bucks coach George Karl was in Greece Sunday, but his agent, Bret Adams, said he would be pleased with the news.
"I know George's feelings towards Sen. Kohl have always been very positive and I'm sure George will be very happy that Sen. Kohl will be maintaining ownership of the team," Adams said.
Karl is heading into a lame-duck season under the two-year contract extension that pays him $7 million a year.
Kohl's statement comes on the same day that Bucks general manager Ernie Grunfeld was released from the final year of his contract. Grunfeld has been rumored to take over as president of basketball operations for the Wizards, the job Jordan held prior to returning to the court two seasons ago.
Kohl, who bought the Bucks from Jim Fitzgerald for $18 million on March 1, 1985, was believed to be asking for $170 million, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The newspaper reported Sunday that local investors were balking at the high price.
"The numbers are ugly," one prominent Milwaukee-area businessman told the Journal Sentinel. "Their revenue streams are going south, and there is a huge negative cash flow."
Kohl has acknowledged that his team has lost money. The Bucks owner initially announced that he would sell a minority part of his team, then opted to completely sell the team.
"It's a bad cash-flow deal," one potential investor told the Journal Sentinel. "Some of these investors would have settled for a neutral cash flow with some appreciation in value. But this is a really thin market."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.