CHARLOTTE (Reuters) - The Charlotte Bobcats franchise mourned the loss of co-owner William "Skipper" Beck on Friday after the North Carolina businessman died in a plane accident earlier in the day.
Beck, 49, was killed when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed at the Rock Hill York County Airport shortly after taking off, the Charlotte Observer reported.
"The entire Bobcats Sports & Entertainment family mourns the loss of our partner and great friend Skipper Beck," majority owner Robert L. Johnson said in a statement on the NBA team's website (www.nba.com/bobcats).
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.
"Skipper loved basketball and was instrumental in bringing the Bobcats to Charlotte. As an owner, he was without question the Bobcats greatest fan. We will miss him at courtside."
Beck's death occurred on the same day NBA great Michael Jordan, managing member of basketball operations for the Bobcats, was to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The expansion Bobcats become the NBA's 30th team in 2004-05, two seasons after the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans.
(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris)