Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is joining Fenway Sports Group as a partner, giving him an ownership stake in its subsidiaries that include the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Roush Fenway Racing and the regional sports network NESN.
James, 36, already owned 2% of Liverpool, the current English Premier League champion. In joining FSG and expanding his investment, James and his business partner Maverick Carter will become the company's first Black partners.
"I think for me and for my partner, Maverick, to be the first two Black men to be a part of that ownership group in the history of that franchise, I think it's pretty damn cool," James said after Tuesday night's victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. "It gives me and people that look like me hope and inspiration that they can be in a position like that as well, that it can be done. It gives my kids at my I Promise School more and more inspiration as well."
FSG is among the largest sports ownership entities in the world, and James' involvement will only increase its reach. In addition to James coming onboard, FSG received a $750 million investment from RedBird Capital Partners, according to The Boston Globe, which first reported James' ownership stake.
With league rules preventing current players from owning portions of the NBA or WNBA, James, who has earned more than $1 billion in his career, according to Forbes, branched out with a conglomerate that started by owning the Red Sox. FSG's broad footprint could expand even more with the infusion of cash from RedBird Capital.
FSG bought Liverpool in 2010 for $493 million -- and James joined in the investment for a reported $6.5 million. FSG turned down a $2.6 billion bid for the team in August 2018, leaving James with tens of millions in profit from his initial investment.
James has not been shy about his desire to own an NBA team. At the NBA All-Star Game in 2019, he told reporters that upon his retirement, "I believe if I wanted to, I could own a team or be part of a basketball team. I know I got so much knowledge of the game that I don't want to, once I stop playing -- I just [do not] want to get away from the game."
In January, when the WNBA's Atlanta Dream were put up for sale, James tweeted: "Think I'm gone put together an ownership group for The Dream." He proceeded to help Renee Montgomery, the former WNBA player and activist, meet with commissioner Cathy Engelbert before she joined with two partners to complete the purchase.
"Yeah, I've always said that. My goal is to own a team, own an NBA team," James said Tuesday night. "I got so much to give to the game. I know what it takes to win at this level. I know talent. I also know how to run a business, as well. And so, that is my goal. My goal is to own an NBA franchise, and it will be sooner than later."
With the Red Sox, James gets limited partnership in one of Major League Baseball's jewel franchises. The team's estimated value is more than $3 billion, and while it's expected to lag behind in the competitive American League East division this season, Boston has significantly improved its farm system and should increase its payroll going into the 2022 season after paring back spending the past two years.
"Obviously a historical franchise," James said of the Red Sox. "And we know the history of the World Series championships that they've brought home to Boston and players that have come through there and the legacy that they hold in that area."
James' connection to FSG goes deeper than his investment in Liverpool. Among the executive producers of the comedy "Survivor's Remorse," which aired for four seasons on Starz: James, Carter and Tom Werner, the longtime television producer and chairman of the Red Sox and Liverpool. Werner owns the second-largest stake in FSG behind principal owner John Henry.
James has long said he's a fan of Boston's historic rival, the New York Yankees, and publicly rooted for the Los Angeles Dodgers in last year's World Series.