LeBron James ups stake in Fenway Sports Group, his first steps toward owning a pro team


LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers passes the ball under the hoop against Al Horford #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Staples Center on March 03, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

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LeBron James, one of the most notable athletes globally, is now part-owner of one of the most valuable sports empires.

The National Basketball Association star is a minority owner in Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which owns the Boston Red Sox, a franchise valued at over $3 billion. James’ agent Rich Paul confirmed the ownership stake to CNBC. The Boston Globe first reported James’ involvement.

The publication notes James and business partner Maverick Carter are the first two Black owners within FSG. The firm itself is valued at over $6 billion, according to Forbes.

James and Carter became minority owners of international soccer Liverpool of the English Premier League in 2011, one year after joining the Miami Heat after departing the Cleveland Cavaliers. FSG purchased Liverpool in 2010 for more than $400 million.

Rich Paul attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

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Paul, who represents James via Klutch Sports Group, is also involved with Major League Baseball after adding a baseball division to his agency last April. He labeled James and Carter’s involvement with FSG as a sign of things to come for the basketball icon.

“It’s breaking down the barriers,” Paul told CNBC on Tuesday. “You’re talking about a game that was once limited. Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente – guys like that people didn’t even want to play the game. The Negros had to have their own league to us now owning and representing in that business sector. It’s a testament to us continuing to evolve and not being complacent.”

Asked if James is serious about becoming a pro sports owner, Paul responded: “Hell yeah. He’s extremely serious about sports ownership.”

Using metrics from global accounting firm KPMG, the Globe noted that Liverpool is valued at $2.6 billion, and James’ 2% stake, originally worth $6.2 million in 2011, is now worth $52 million.

Paul said James would hold on to his stake as he navigates the MLB ownership space to pursue one day running a team.

“I don’t see him selling. He doesn’t need the money,” Paul said, adding that James’ ownership focus would be start with the NBA. “I can’t wait for him to be on the other side as an owner.”

FSG’s principal owner is businessman John Henry with investment partners including Arctos Sports, who added former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein to its group last month. Henry also owns the Boston Globe.

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