Johnson makes final payment on expansion fee

NEW YORK -- The Charlotte Bobcats officially joined the NBA
on Monday after majority owner Bob Johnson made the final payment
on the team's $300 million expansion fee.

The Bobcats become the league's 30th team and will begin play
next season.

``We are delighted to welcome the city of Charlotte back into
the NBA,'' commissioner David Stern said.

Johnson, chief executive officer of Black Entertainment
Television, was awarded the expansion franchise in January 2003.

The Bobcats will select at least 14 players from the other 29
NBA teams in an expansion draft June 22. Teams will be allowed to
protect eight players, and no team may lose more than one player.

Charlotte has the fourth overall pick, and also the fourth pick
in the second round (33rd overall pick), in the June 24 draft.

The Bobcats will play their inaugural season at the Charlotte
Coliseum, former home of the Hornets before they relocated to New
Orleans in 2002. A new arena is expected to open in November 2005.

Charlotte will play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern
Conference with Miami, Atlanta, Orlando and Washington under the
NBA's new divisional alignment, which goes into effect next season.