LeBron James is without a doubt the best player to ever play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his historic ties to that team won’t be erased any time soon, even if he does play for the Los Angeles Lakers now.
But could James one day lead the Cavaliers to success off of the court like he did on it, or at least get involved with the team again? According to Maverick Carter — who has been one of James’ best friends since childhood and now essentially manages all of James’ entertainment endeavors — it sounds like it’s possible, although a few things would have to happen first.
But before we get to that, a little context is necessary. When James returned to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers last week, Carter did an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN, who asked him if he thought there would be a statue for James in front of the team’s arena one day:
”I don’t know, I think LeBron is still so focused on playing -- as we all can see -- that he doesn’t really talk about things like that. He talks about the next game, the last game, what’s their season ahead. He hasn’t started to look back at all, not one bit,” Carter said.
“Every now and again he’s started to utter ‘when I’m done playing, I’m going to do this, or when I’m done playing I want to buy a team,” Carter continued. “But he doesn’t really talk about things like [a statue]. So I don’t know, maybe they will or maybe they won’t. I don’t know. It depends on who is the owner at that time, and how they feel.”
The talk of it depending on who the owner is and that James was interested in buying a team one day led to the natural follow-up from Nichols:
Nichols: Do you think that he might end up buying this team? Because then he could decide about the statue.
Carter: ”I think if this team was up for sale he’d definitely be one of the people who looked at buying it for sure.”
So even though Carter said it, it goes without saying that the Cavaliers would have to be up for sale. James couldn’t take over the team just by virtue of being one of the best players to ever play for it, and it seems unlikely that Dan Gilbert would want to work with him again given how contentious their relationship has been ever since James left Cleveland the first time, a tension that doesn’t seem to have been solved by James’ return, or the four ensuing trips to the NBA Finals.
But if Gilbert did decide to sell the Cavaliers for whatever reason after James retires, it’s a safe bet that James would be leading an ownership group to try and purchase Gilbert’s controlling stake in the team. Doing so would complete a nice loop for James, and allow him the opportunity to continue his impact on the Ohio community he loves so much.
Before that can happen, though, James still has at least two years after this one on his Lakers contract, and there doesn’t appear to be any momentum towards Gilbert selling the Cavaliers anyway, not when the NBA has never been more profitable.
It seems likelier that rather than all of the dominoes falling in the necessary order for James to own the Cavaliers, that he may end up purchasing some other team, or ending up with an ownership stake in the Lakers after he retires, similarly to Magic Johnson. We’ll see what happens, though.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.