CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan's impact on LeBron James the basketball player is obvious. Look no further than the No. 23 James wears across his chest during games in homage to "His Airness."
Jordan's impact on James the businessman might not be as readily apparent, but he has also been influential on "The Chosen One" in that aspect of life.
"He's done it as well as anyone can do it as far as present [playing] career and post, so you're always kind of watching," James said before the Cleveland Cavaliers' Friday morning shootaround ahead of their game against Jordan's Charlotte Hornets. "And it'd be great for anyone who can come in and own a ballclub, that would be pretty cool stuff, and also his brand, it continues to make an impact. So it's pretty awesome to see what he's still able to do after being away from the game for so long."
Jordan purchased the Hornets in February 2010, becoming the first former NBA player to become the principal owner of a team. Since then, other former players have followed suit -- notably Shaquille O'Neal with the Sacramento Kings and Grant Hill with the Atlanta Hawks -- albeit in a minority capacity.
James has already ventured into the realm of controlling a professional sports team, just not an NBA one. In 2011, his company, LRMR Branding & Marketing, teamed with Boston Red Sox owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner to establish a partnership with Fenway Sports Group. As part of the deal, James received a minority stake in Liverpool Football Club, a soccer franchise in the English Premier League that was valued by Forbes at more than $980 million in May 2015.
The Cavaliers star, who turns 31 in December, figures to have at least of handful of seasons remaining in his playing career and did not want to entertain the question of whether he aspires to follow in Jordan's footsteps and own an NBA team.
"I'm not there," James said. "I'm not there right now."
James also has a link to Jordan through Nike. Just like Jordan, James has had a signature sneaker line with the company since his rookie season. Jordan, who retired from playing basketball in 2003 after his 15th season, continues to have a signature Air Jordan sneaker release every year. Even though the last sneaker he actually played in was the Air Jordan XVIII, the shoes have continued to be incredibly successful, with the Air Jordan XXX expected to be released in the coming months.
The Jordan Brand has been so lucrative, in fact, that Nike announced at a stockholders meeting earlier this month that its plan is to reach $50 billion in overall annual sales by 2020, largely by expanding the Jordan branch of the company.
James' signature Nike line, which released its 13th shoe this fall, brought in $340 million in sales for Nike in 2014, according to Forbes.
James was asked if he has developed his various off-court business interests to the point where he could have the financial means someday to own an NBA team, should he desire.
"I mean, I've positioned myself for a long time for whatever I want to do, if I want it," he said. "But the main thing right now is positioning this team to be as great as we can be. That's my only concern. That's the main thing, and that's the only thing on my mind right now. Obviously I have a lot of stuff going on, but I have a team for that and they take care of it, and when my input is needed, I'll give it. But this is the position that I'm in right now."