While LeBron James might play like he’s still in his early-20s, the reality is at the end of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, James will be 37 years old and will likely consider retiring in the purple and gold. You may take this time to shed a tear.
Luckily for James, he’s already set up himself up nicely for retirement. Along with the money he’s made playing in the NBA to date (roughly $233 million) and his rumored lifetime deal with Nike worth up to $1 billion, James also has endorsement deals with Sprite, Beats and Kia Motors.
However, despite his financial security, the 33-year-old plans on pursuing other business ventures when he decides to hang up his sneakers, including business with the NBA. In an interview with Audrey Cleo of Variety, James’ longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter talked about James’ dream of owning an NBA team somewhere down the line:
“10 years from now I think, well I don’t think, I know, LeBron will be owning a basketball team. Or maybe even a football team, because he does like football and he’s looked at football ownership. So he’ll be owning a basketball team and running it.”
James is no stranger to owning a professional sports team. In 2011, James received a two percent stake in the Premier League football club Liverpool FC for $6.5 million. That stake is worth nearly $32 million today, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.
He’s also the controlling owner of the Toronto Raptors, along with Kobe Bryant.
If there’s any former player that can feasibly own the next NBA team that goes on sale, it’s James, but what team would he be interested in buying? The easiest answer here is, of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A proud native of Akron, Ohio, it’s safe to assume James would love nothing more than to own the Cavaliers even if it meant giving money to current Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who was reportedly a big reason James left Cleveland this summer.
If the Cavs don’t go on sale any time soon, though, James might just buy the first team that becomes available and use his brand to make the team more marketable like he has done with some of the other investments he’s made like Blaze Pizza.
One person who could help James in this regard? Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who owns pieces of the Los Angeles Sparks, Dodgers and LAFC (one of L.A.’s Major League soccer teams).
Johnson also owned part of the Lakers for a time after retiring, and is thus one of the few people on the planet who might be able to help James learn what it takes to get into NBA ownership after a successful playing career, a mentorship opportunity that might have been one of the many draws for James in joining the Lakers.
And while the Lakers couldn’t have offered James a path to ownership upon retiring (that would be circumvention of the cap and thus illegal under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement), they have demonstrated in the past a commitment to take care of their stars, a tendency James could have used to connect some dots and see opportunity in Los Angeles, even if such an opportunity was never expressly stated.
But regardless of his path to get there, James owning a team is still likely a long way off. Until then, fans will just have to try and savor every second James has left on the court. It’s not every day a player of James’ caliber enters the league, especially one that has been dominant for as long as he has, and we should enjoy it while it lasts.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.