For all the money and fame it brings, the career of a professional sportsperson is a relatively short one, often coming to an abrupt end in their mid to late 30s. At this point, most are left searching for a new outlet for their competitive natures, as well as a way to invest their considerable fortunes.
Buying a sports team is one of the most popular options available and stars who have done this in the past include Michael Jordan who famously owns the Charlotte Hornets and Magic Johnson who is a leading shareholder in the LA Dodgers.
Now the player whose ownership future is being widely speculated over is LeBron James. At 33 he probably has a few more playing years ahead of him but his thoughts must surely be starting to turn to his eventual retirement.
One thing is for certain and that’s that his estimated $233 million fortune plus lifetime sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Sprite and Kia rumoured to be worth over $1 billion mean that his pockets will be more than deep enough to buy a substantial share of almost any team he chooses.
It’s also something he’s already done in the English Premier League with a $6.5 million investment and 2% stake in the Liverpool FC soccer team. With the club riding high in the league he’s already seen its value rise to around $32 million.
But basketball’s his first love so it would seem more than likely that he’ll set his sights on an NBA team when the time comes, but which one?
The logical answer would be the Lakers but, unfortunately, this wouldn’t be allowed under the terms of the cap arrangements with the team and would be in conflict with the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. So he’ll have to set his sights elsewhere.
There’s a strong tradition of players buying into the teams that they used to play for so how about the one that James has represented the most in his career, Cleveland Cavaliers.
With stints from 2003 till 2010 and 2014 to 2018 he’s spent no less than 14 years playing with them and his heart definitely lies in his home state, Ohio.
But one thing to consider is that when he left the Cavaliers for the Lakers earlier this year one of the reasons cited was his poor relationship with the current owner, Dan Gilbert. Whether he’ll want to business with Gilbert remains to be seen.
Then there’s the possibility of the other team he’s represented, Miami Heat. This would very much be an outside option compared with the Cavaliers but in basketball, as in life, nothing’s absolutely out of the question.
But with a possible three or four more seasons left with the Lakers it’s not a decision that James is going to have to make in the immediate future. And when he does it’s more than likely that his first overtures will be made to the Cavaliers.
As to how they’ll respond to this, we’ll just have to wait and see.
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