LeBron James is the only NBA player to become a billionaire during his playing career. Michael Jordan is in the club, but didn’t get there as an active player. Back in May, James was named the highest paid athlete in the world (126.9M) per Sportico, but it’s not just his sponsorships and salary that made him a billionaire. James’ SpringHill Company is valued at around $725M and he has some level of investment in the powerful Fenway Sports Group.
As the NBA eyes expanded the league with two additional teams, Seattle and Las Vegas, LeBron appears to be legitimately in the running to use his significant financial resources to join Michael Jordan as a NBA owner in the future.
In a recent episode of his podcast, NBA insider Ric Bucher reported that LeBron has the “pole position” when it comes to owning the Las Vegas expansion team.
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“LeBron James apparently is in the pole position, to be the owner of the Las Vegas expansion franchise, when Las Vegas and Seattle which I’m told is going to happen as soon as the next TV deals are in place, that those franchises are going to be added to the equation, which has a whole lot of repercussions including the timing of when LeBron decides to step aside and become an owner, rather than a player.”
Bill Simmons, another veteran, well-sourced NBA expert, was the first to prognosticate that LeBron could very well own the Las Vegas team once the expansion plans become official.
Back in June, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated that the league is “not discussing that [expansion] at this time”, but did note that “this league will invariably expand, just not at this moment”.
The league new TV broadcasting rights contract could begin as soon as 2025 according to Jabari Young of CNBC. Some reporters believe that the NBA could be seeking a new deal valued at $8B annually and as Bucher notes, could be the time that the NBA decides to expand after the influx of cash.
There’s still a few years to go and a litany of hurdles to clear before the NBA adds a pair of new teams, but don’t be at all surprised if James ends up being the majority owner of the Las Vegas franchise.