Given that the 37-year-old James has no plans to retire anytime soon, and Las Vegas doesn't even have an NBA franchise yet, it's clear that won't happen for years. LeBron recently became the first active basketball player to earn more than a billion dollars, but even that won't be nearly enough to buy a club on his own.
It is estimated that the license to start a new NBA club will need three billion dollars when the NBA finally decides to expand. The main favorites for obtaining a license are Las Vegas and Seattle.
Calculated chess moves that he has been doing for more than a decade
Nevertheless, both LeBron's playing retirement and the expansion of the NBA league could coincide in some 4-5 years, and Joe Pompliano, an American entrepreneur and investor specializing in the business side of sports, elaborated in a thread on his Twitter profile how the basketball superstar can achieve his goal .
"It's a series of calculated chess moves that have been going on for more than a decade," Pompliano wrote, first breaking down LeBron's billion dollars into ownership of the Spring Hill company (300 million), a stake in Fenway Sports Group (90 million), real estate (80 million ), Blaze Pizza (30 million) and cash and other investments (500 million).
The key to LeBron's plan is FSG, which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise with the Fenway Park stadium and the soccer giant Liverpool and its Anfield. James and FSG started working together in 2011 when FSG started expanding and wanted to buy LeBron's marketing rights, which he agreed to.
But he did not sell them for cash or future fees, instead accepting a two per cent stake in Liverpool's ownership. That decision turned out to be even better than the one with which he announced a year earlier that he was moving from Cleveland to the Miami Heat, with whom he would win the first two championships.
Liverpool's value has multiplied
Since that 2011, Liverpool's value has increased manifold, especially after winning the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League a year later, from 500 million to 4.5 billion dollars.
Thus, the value of James' share, writes Pompliano, grew from the initial 6.5 to 90 million dollars. Last year, FSG sold 10% of its stake to RedBird Capital, raising $750 million. After that deal was completed, LeBron and his longtime friend and associate Maverick Carter were named partners in the company, and James converted his 2% stake in Liverpool into a 1% stake in FSG.
The value of the shares is about the same, but with this move James became a co-owner of FSG itself and all its properties, not just Liverpool, but the reason for this lies in the future.
FSG wants to expand into the NBA.
And that's where LeBron steps in
FSG raised 750 million as it wants to buy more clubs and expand into the NHL and NBA. Just a few months later, he bought a controlling stake in the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey franchise for $900 million.
As for the NBA, FSG reportedly explored the possibility of buying the Minnesota Timberwolves, but backed off because many believe its main goal is an expansion team in Las Vegas. And who would be the ideal man from Fenway to manage it if not LeBron James? At the end, Pompliano defends himself and explains that this is just theorizing, but everything he wrote makes sense if two and two are added together, i.e.
LeBron's desire to own the club and years of tactics that, thanks to a decision made 11 years ago, put him in a position to make that wish come true.