LeBron James eyes NBA franchise ownership in Las Vegas after becoming a billionaire


‘I want a team in Las Vegas’: LeBron James announces he plans to buy an NBA franchise in Sin City after becoming league’s first-ever billionaire active player

  • The Lakers star made the announcement on Instagram via the Uninterrupted
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver denied rumors earlier this week that Las Vegas and Seattle are prime candidates for the league’s 2024 expansion
  • The price of an expansion NBA franchise will likely be at least $2.5 billion 
  • James officially became a billionaire earlier in June, Forbes revealed
  • Las Vegas is readying itself to build an ‘NBA-ready’ arena to bolster a budding sports scene that has added NFL, NHL, and WNBA teams in recent years
  • The Oak View Group, an international stadium developer, has announced plans to build a $3 billion sports and entertainment district just south of the Strip
  • The OVG project is expected to break ground next year and will be finished in 2025 at the earliest

Four-times NBA champion LeBron James is ready to gamble his chips on a Las Vegas team after becoming the league’s first-ever active player to turn into a billionaire.

‘I wanna own a team,’ James said in a clip from his HBO television show ‘The Shop’ that circulated on social media on Thursday evening. ‘Yeah, I want a team…I want a, yeah, I want a team in Vegas. Yeah, I want the team in Vegas,’ he added. 

The episode is expected to air on Friday. The 37-year-old James is under contract with the Lakers through the 2022-23 season, after which he will be a free agent, though he has already begun to test the water of professional team ownership.  

LeBron James announced that he wants to own NBA franchise in Las Vegas after becoming league's first-ever billionaire player through a self-owned communications platform, The Uninterrupted

LeBron James announced that he wants to own NBA franchise in Las Vegas after becoming league’s first-ever billionaire player through a self-owned communications platform, The Uninterrupted

In March 2021, the 18-times All-Star became a part owner of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Boston Red Sox, after he joined Fenway Sports Group (FSG) as a partner. FSG also owns English Premier League soccer club Liverpool.   

James recently became the second athlete to be worth $1billion following fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan in terms of being valued at 10 figures, Forbes reports, although James has done it while still an active player.

Jordan, 59, was not valued at $1billion until 2014, 11 years after he’d retired and right after he became an investor in the league’s Charlotte Hornets.

Las Vegas, as well as Seattle, have reportedly been listed at the NBA’s next locations for the league’s planned expansion in 2024. However, NBA Commission Adam Silver denied these rumors last week.

‘As I said before, at some point, this league invariably will expand, but it’s not at this moment that we are discussing it,’ Silver said ahead of Games 1 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors.

Silver, though, understands why both cities would be strong contenders for the league’s expansion rights.

‘Those are wonderful markets,’ Silver further said. ‘Again, as I’ve said before, we were in Seattle. I’m sorry we are no longer there. We have a WNBA team in Seattle in an almost brand-new building that’s doing spectacular. And Las Vegas, where will be at our Summer League in July, has shown itself to be a great sports market as well.’

James is only the second-highest compensated athlete in the world between salary and endorsements with $121.2million, beaten out by PSG and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, who raked in $130million. However, the investment game is where LeBron has made enough money to dwarf the likes of Tiger Woods, Messi, Magic Johnson and Floyd Mayweather

James is only the second-highest compensated athlete in the world between salary and endorsements with $121.2million, beaten out by PSG and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, who raked in $130million. However, the investment game is where LeBron has made enough money to dwarf the likes of Tiger Woods, Messi, Magic Johnson and Floyd Mayweather

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has downplayed talks that the league is planning a Las Vegas and Seattle Expansion before Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has downplayed talks that the league is planning a Las Vegas and Seattle Expansion before Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics

Forbes announced earlier in June that LeBron James, 37, became the first-ever active player to be a billionaire, as his net worth hit $1billion. Michael Jordan was the first NBA player to reach those heights although he was already retired by the time he did in 2014

Forbes announced earlier in June that LeBron James, 37, became the first-ever active player to be a billionaire, as his net worth hit $1billion. Michael Jordan was the first NBA player to reach those heights although he was already retired by the time he did in 2014

The Oak View Group, an international stadium developer, announced in March that it is preparing to build a $1 billion ‘NBA-ready’ arena in Sin City to bolster a growing sports scene that has added NFL, NHL, and WNBA teams in recent years. 

The developer group said it had plans to build a $3 billion sports and entertainment district just south of the Strip after acquiring 25 acres from the city of Las Vegas. The proposed 20,000-seat arena will cost close to $1 billion and is likely to be privately funded, an OVG spokesman told DailyMail.com in March. The project is expected to be completed by 2025 at the earliest.

For comparison, the city’s T-Mobile arena was finished for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights in 2016 at a cost of $375 million in private funding. Meanwhile Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Raiders, was finished for $1.9 billion in 2020, thanks to $750 million in public funds from municipal bonds and hotel taxes.

Oak View Group co-founder Tim Leiweke

Oak View Group co-founder Tim Leiweke

The executive who is spearheading the project, Tim Leiweke, said he hopes the project will help bring a team to Sin City – but added that he knows there are ‘no guarantees.’

‘Las Vegas is the entertainment capital and so what we have to build is the best we have ever built for Las Vegas,’ OVG chief executive officer Tim Leiweke told CNBC.

‘Should the NBA decide to come and by the way, there’s no certainty or no guarantees that the NBA is ever coming to Vegas, but should they come, we certainly will be NBA ready.’

The price of an expansion franchise in the NBA is expected to be at least $2.5 billion – and possibly much more. According to ESPN Senior Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Portland Trail Blazers, which are owned by Jody Allen, are potentially facing an ownership change after Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and Alan Smolinisky, part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers offered $2billion.

Las Vegas is also in discussions with Formula 1 to add an event as early as 2023, according to CNBC. The city already hosted this year’s NFL Draft in April and is scheduled to host its first Super Bowl in 2024.

The 'NBA-ready' arena project is expected to break ground next year to the Las Vegas Strip. The proposed $1 billion arena should be completed by 2025 at the earliest

The ‘NBA-ready’ arena project is expected to break ground next year to the Las Vegas Strip. The proposed $1 billion arena should be completed by 2025 at the earliest

Las Vegas (pictured) already has three sports teams that participate in the NHL, NFL and the WNBA, the NBA's sister league. A wide angle generic view of T-Mobile Arena, home to the Las Vegas Aces (WNBA), and the Las Vegas strip sykline

Las Vegas (pictured) already has three sports teams that participate in the NHL, NFL and the WNBA, the NBA’s sister league. A wide angle generic view of T-Mobile Arena, home to the Las Vegas Aces (WNBA), and the Las Vegas strip sykline

The Oak View Group, an international stadium developer, has announced plans to build a $3 billion sports and entertainment district just south of the Strip after acquiring 25 acres from Las Vegas. The proposed 20,000-seat arena will cost $1 billion and is expected to be privately funded, an OVG spokesman told DailyMail.com

The Oak View Group, an international stadium developer, has announced plans to build a $3 billion sports and entertainment district just south of the Strip after acquiring 25 acres from Las Vegas. The proposed 20,000-seat arena will cost $1 billion and is expected to be privately funded, an OVG spokesman told DailyMail.com

Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL's Raiders, was finished for $1.9 billion in 2020, thanks to $750 million in public funds from municipal bonds and hotel taxes

Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Raiders, was finished for $1.9 billion in 2020, thanks to $750 million in public funds from municipal bonds and hotel taxes

Meanwhile, James’ billionaire status, which he described to GQ in 2014 as ‘my biggest milestone, comes largely from his investments. 

The former Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers all-star owns his own production company, known as SpringHill, pizza chains, headphones and other products on top of his ownership claims in FSG – group owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC.

James made a little over $41million for the 2021-22 season, making him only the sixth-highest paid player in the NBA, with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry topping the chart at over $45million, according to ESPN.

In fact, James is only the second-highest compensated athlete in the world between salary and endorsements with $121.2million, beaten out by PSG and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, who raked in $130million.

However, the investment game is where LeBron has made enough money to dwarf the likes of Tiger Woods, Messi, Magic Johnson and Floyd Mayweather.

James’ total earnings from his nearly two-decade basketball career has netted him about $1.2billion in pretax earnings, $385million of it from his playing salary.

While he has earned hundreds of millions for endorsements, a mid-career pivot to force sponsors to provide him equity has allowed his wealth to explode.

James has stakes in Blaze Pizza, Beats By Dre and publicly traded fitness company Beachbody.

Perhaps his biggest score is Spring Hill Company with longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter, which helped bring the reboot of Space Jam to the big screen and has a half dozen further projects on the docket for 2022 and 2023.

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