CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Michael Jordan’s drive and immense physical talent made him an NBA superstar. His stardom and shrewdness helped him make millions in business.

His latest venture will test his talents and skills like no other.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Saturday he expects Jordan to be approved as majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats by the end of next month. Minutes before his exclusive negotiating window expired late Friday night, Jordan struck a deal with owner Bob Johnson to take over the money-losing team in his home state.

It puts the biggest basketball star of his generation in charge of a 6-year-old team that’s never made the playoffs, has struggled to win over fans and has more than $150 million in debt.

Can Jordan’s streak of business success continue?

”If he’s going to be an absentee owner, just like Bob was, it’s not going to work,” said Felix Sabates, a NASCAR team owner who also holds a minority stake in the Bobcats. ”I think if Michael makes a commitment and shows dedication, he can be very successful. He’s a big icon in this part of the country.”

An icon that has been rarely seen. He’s been a part-owner of the Bobcats with the final say on all basketball decisions since 2006. But Jordan has kept a low profile, rarely attending practices or games, taking no role in marketing and leaving the day-to-day operations to a team of assistants.

But former Houston Rockets executive George Postolos, who had an ownership group together to buy the team before Jordan swooped in at the last minute, thinks the deal shows Jordan really wanted the team.

”It’s a very substantial part of his net worth,” Postolos said. ”He’s very, very committed.”

SATURDAY’S GAMES

BUCKS 94, HEAT 71: John Salmons scored 18 points and Milwaukee took advantage of injured Dwyane Wade’s absence in Miami to win a sixth game in a row.

Milwaukee improved to 3-0 this season against Miami, winning by a total of 50 points. The Bucks are assured of winning the season series for the first time in seven years.

Wade missed his fourth consecutive game because of a strained left calf and is doubtful for today’s game at Orlando.

GRIZZLIES 120, KNICKS 109: Zach Randolph had 31 points and a career-high 25 rebounds against his former team, and Memphis beat New York to tie a club record with its fourth straight road victory.

PACERS 100, BULLS 90: Danny Granger had 30 points and eight rebounds to help Indiana beat Chicago in Indianapolis.

TRAIL BLAZERS 110, TIMBERWOLVES 91: Nicolas Batum scored  31 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 and visiting Portland cruised to its 12th straight win over Minnesota.

JAZZ 133, ROCKETS 110: Deron Williams scored 20 of his 35 points in the first quarter and  Utah won at Salt Lake City.
Williams was 13 of 17 from the field, and had 13 assists and seven rebounds to help the Jazz set a season high for points.