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Here's how LeBron James set himself up to one day own an NBA team

Yahoo! Sports logo Yahoo! Sports 2/14/2019 Cassandra Negley
LeBron James, Tyson Chandler are posing for a picture: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is making moves to one day own an NBA team. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) © Provided by Oath Inc. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is making moves to one day own an NBA team. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LeBron James does not simply say he wants to own an NBA team one day. He acts the part, making behind-the-scenes moves that will set up the three-time NBA champion to make it a reality.

“Ain’t no maybe about it, I’m going to do that s—,” James told The Athletic

Joe Vardon detailed for the site’s Ink Magazine vertical how the 34-year-old James and those he puts around him could place a bid for a team as soon as tomorrow (given he retired and a team were up for sale).

Not just dribbling

James is bringing in $88.7 million in earnings a year, per a report this week by Forbes, and more than half of that comes from off-the-court work.

He signed a lucrative lifetime deal with Nike in late 2015 and has investments in various other businesses that bring in millions.

His Hollywood production company, SpringHill Entertainment, with business partner Maverick Carter brings in revenue with hit films and TV shows.

Space Jam 2 is in pre-production and is likely to hit big when it does come out based on nostalgia’s overtake of pop culture. The company also announced a “Friday the 13th” reboot to much excitement.

In all he’s earned $270 million and counting on the court, $600 million from an “expansive endorsement portfolio” and Forbes estimates his net worth at $450 million.

Endless partner possibilities

Team’s net worth and selling price points have been rising for decades and keep skyrocketing. The Houston Rockets sold for $2.2 billion in September 2017 and two fellow teams sold since 2010 came in at more than $1 billion.

The only other team to sell for that much prior to 2000 was the New York Knicks in 1997. The city and status of the team has pushed the Knicks, despite struggles on the court, to the first NBA franchise worth more than $4 billion.

With soaring prices and no idea what team will be up for sale, James would likely need to bring on minority investors, a prospect those involved with his business dealings aren’t worried about in conversations relayed by The Athletic.

Paul Wachter executes all of the four-time NBA MVP’s investments and business deals and has been at the forefront of setting James up to be in the best position for ownership, per the report. He’s already been involved in big sales, including the 2002 sale of the Boston Red Sox, per the Los Angeles Business Times.

Wachter told The Athletic it would take James “about five calls to find partners” if he went that route. James already has partnerships with high-profile people and has ties to Wachter clients such as U2 lead singer Bono. He’s also friendly with a long list of celebrities, headlined by couple Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Surrounding himself with assets

The basis of The Athletic’s thorough reporting is that James is surrounding by, as mentioned above, very influential, high-profile, reputable people.

“I know I got a great team around me that can help me do anything I want to do,” LeBron said. “If I wanted to run for the president of the United States, I got a team around me that could help me possibly win it, if I decided I wanted to give my all to it.”

To be clear, LeBron told The Athletic he is not considering a run for office.

James reportedly talks with them all at various times about how owners, general managers and coaches operate, gaining insight and knowledge to use later. He has longtime associates in communications as well as various brand and team front offices who told The Athletic their plans to move over with James when he does buy a team.

Magic in his corner

Magic Johnson gave high marks for the possibility of James becoming an owner and even celebrated it. He told the The Athletic “we need him” to follow through on it.

James would become only the fourth minority owner of an NBA team, according to a report by CNN Money last May.

Johnson, who held a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, said his clout, ego, experience and reputation make him a good candidate.

“It takes a special situation, a special player, to become an owner,” Magic said. “Not only do you have to make a lot of money, which LeBron checks that box, but you have to be very intelligent. He checks that box. Personality-wise, you need to have respect, not only of the players and the owners and (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver, and you need charisma. LeBron has all those boxes checked. You also have to understand what it takes. You have to have a game plan and a strategy for how you’re going to do it (become an owner).”

To again be clear, James has no intention of retiring anytime soon. He signed a four-year, $153 million contract with the Lakers last year and told The Athletic he plans to play years beyond it expiring.

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