Charlotte Hornets president, vice chair announces departure

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Hornets announced the departure of their president and vice chairman Fred Whitfield.

Whitfield led the team’s basketball operations for more than 17 years, the Hornets said Wednesday.

His announcement comes after NBA legend Michael Jordan sold his controlling interest in the franchise back in August. The Charlotte Business Journal reported that the new lead owners are financiers Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall.

The two thanked Whitfield for his service to the Hornets in a statement shared Wednesday afternoon.

“We thank Fred for all he has done for our organization and for the role he has played in helping get our ownership group up to speed over the last several months,” they said. “His experience, knowledge and relationships in this industry, league and community have been invaluable to our franchise. We appreciate his hard work and dedication and wish him all the best.”

Whitfield oversaw the team’s name change from the Bobcats to the Hornets, the rebranding of the Time Warner Cable Arena to the Spectrum Center, and the launch of the Greensboro Swarm in the NBA G League.

“[The] Spectrum Center hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention, 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend and 2019 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, as well as the Jumpman Invitational that debuted in December 2022 and will return December 19-20 and multiple rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament,” a news release reads.

Fred Whitfield shared the following statement about his departure:

“For the past 17 and a half years I have had the privilege of representing the Charlotte Hornets as president and vice chairman, and ultimately minority owner. But the time has come for me to step away and focus on my health and my family.

“Over the last 18 months I have successfully battled a serious case of throat cancer. I’ve also been focused on supporting my mother, who has her own health issues. As these priorities have occupied more of my time and energy, I realized that now is the right time to leave my role with the Hornets, who are on a tremendous path to success with the energy and ideas brought by our new owners, Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin. I’m grateful to them for their support during this challenging time, and I also want to thank the prior ownership groups under the leadership of Bob Johnson and Michael Jordan for giving me such a tremendous opportunity.

“I’d also like to thank NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his predecessor, the late David Stern, for their unwavering support of our organization and me personally. During my tenure with the Hornets, we always focused on meeting the needs of all the communities we serve – the NBA, the players, coaches and staff, the fans and the rest of the Charlotte region. I know that focus will continue, and I look forward to being involved in a variety of efforts to improve the Charlotte community while cheering on the Hornets from the stands.”

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