When you hear the name LeBron James, a number of things come to mind. Chief among them are four-time NBA Champion, four-time NBA Finals MVP, Four-time NBA regular season MVP, 17-time NBA All-Star, three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, third all-time in points scored in the NBA, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and one of if not arguably the best to have ever played the game of basketball.
Is LeBron James a Football Fan? LeBron James is a big fan of football, so much so he purchased part of Liverpool Football Club. James is regularly seen in his Liverpool football shirt.
LeBron James has been a fan of perhaps the most popular sport in the world and has even had close ties to an English Premier League (EPL) club for over a decade now. We take a look at how LeBron got into football and how did he buy part of Liverpool. If you are into football then make sure you check out our sister website soccernoise.com.
Though no one can purport to know when “King James” first encountered the beloved game of football, the talisman was first linked to an EPL club in 2011 during his tenure with the Miami Heat. In a report that made headlines across the world, it was disclosed that the 2008 NBA scoring champion had acquired a 2% minority stake in Liverpool courtesy of a deal he had struck with the Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
FSG, then called New England Sports Ventures, had just bought Liverpool from former owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks for around £300 million. As part of the agreement with James to become his main marketing agency, FSG allocated the playmaker shares worth £4.9 million ($6.5 million) making the ex-Cleveland Cavalier a minority shareholder.
Thanks to Liverpool’s resurgence in recent years and their success both in the EPL and abroad, the 2% stake was reported to have grown to £24 million ($32 million) by 2018 by global sports network ESPN. In 2019, accounting firm KPMG valued the investment at £37 million ($51 million) proving that James is not only a conqueror on the basketball court but in the boardroom as well.
In March 2021, it was revealed that FSG had brought James and longtime friend and business colleague Maverick Carter into Liverpool’s ownership group after the two attained senior partnership status.
Trip to Anfield
Back in 2011, LeBron had his first live EPL experience courtesy of a trip the 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year took to Anfield. Dressed in a dapper suit, a red and white tie and donning a Liverpool scarf, James joined 40,000 fans and witnessed a clash between the Reds and perennial league rivals Manchester United.
In an interview following the match, James admitted that he was impressed by the energy the fans, who had screamed their lungs out from whistle to whistle in support of either team, maintained throughout the whole game and labelled it an “unbelievable experience”.
Liverpool also treated the 2020 NBA assists leader to a private tour of the stadium during which James met then Reds stars Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez. LeBron also got a chance to meet club legend Kenny Daglish, who he quickly took to calling “King Kenny” and admitted that he had a difficult time understanding on account of the Englishman’s strong accent.
Buying into the Culture
In his 2011 interview, James revealed that he chose to work with FSG because of the passion and love they have for sports – something they have in common. LeBron added that he was particularly sold on the idea of Liverpool because of the club’s rich past and the power behind their history.
James further heaped praise on the defending EPL champions terming them a club whose logo and general brand was recognized the world over much like that of the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and archenemies Manchester United.
The five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team honoree has since been a vocal Liverpool supporter and has been spotted wearing the club colors on more than one occasion. LeBron also took to social media in 2019 and 2020 to celebrate their UEFA Champions League and Premier League titles respectively, further endearing himself to the Reds’ loyal fanbase.
In a recent Q&A session with his multitude of fans on Instagram, James was asked to name his favorite football players. The 2020 Time Athlete of the Year gladly obliged and began by stating that every player on Liverpool, which boasts of the likes of attacking trio Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino and defensive maestro Virgil van Dijk, is at the top of his list.
LeBron went on to name the Paris Saint Germain duo of Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappé as the other set of teammates that features on his list, showing that his knowledge of football transcended the Premier League.
James continued by disclosing that multiple-time Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo also topped his list. The two, who are without a doubt the greatest players of not only their generation but in the history of football, have been listed alongside “LBJ” on the top end of the list of the most paid athletes in the world on more than one occasion. Like “The King”, they are no strangers to success and often find themselves in the lists of the best players to ever do it and rightfully so.
The 2012 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year rounded off his list with former AC Milan and Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimović – a man with whom the ex-St. Vincent-St. Mary standout has publicly disagreed with. However, despite their different points of view, there appears to be a mutual respect between the two and any true sports fan can attribute their not seeing eye to eye to their larger-than-life personalities.
“The Chosen One” has time and time again confessed that owning a team or being part of a group that owns a team is one of his future plans and many expect the multiple time ESPY winner to either increase his stake in Liverpool, look to acquire an NBA team after his retirement from basketball or both.