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John Henry pours cold water on LeBron James' hopes of NBA franchise in Las Vegas

LeBron James looks on during the first half of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on May 13, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio.
-Credit: (Image: Nick Cammett/Getty Images)


John Henry, who owns Liverpool, the Boston Red Sox and other sporting properties via his position at the top of the FSG tree, has spoken about the group's future plans. It won't necessarily be music to the ears of LeBron James, a minority shareholder.

LeBron initially acquired a stake in Liverpool alone, shortly after FSG had come on board as owners. He later converted that into a smaller stake in FSG itself, before increasing that shareholding further as part of a deal that saw Henry's group gain the lifetime contract to secure his marketing deals.

It's long been assumed that the basketball icon will one day front an NBA franchise. Still playing currently, his career is slowly winding down, and there have been persistent rumors that FSG will target an expansion franchise in Las Vegas and place LeBron in charge.

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However, Henry may have poured a degree of cold water on those suggestions. Speaking to The Boston Globe (another FSG property), he outlined what comes next for the business after a major investment into the PGA Tour.

FSG recently led a group of investors in injecting $3bn into the Tour, offering an alternative to the Saudi merger that did not materialize. It's a big leap from owning teams like Liverpool, the Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Henry and co. now backing an entire competition.

And Henry thinks that's quite enough to be going on with for now. Last summer, CFO Julie Swinehart declared that FSG remained in "growth mode", but it appears that may no longer be the case.

“[The PGA investment] means that we’re not looking to grow at this point,” Henry said. “I hate to say that on the record, but we’ve got our hands full with Boston, Liverpool, this, Pittsburgh [Penguins], NASCAR, real estate.”

Boston Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry signs autographs for fans during the first full-squad Spring Training workout JetBlue Park at Fenway South on February 19, 2024 in Fort Myers, Florida.
Henry has put a lid on previous talk about FSG being in "growth mode". -Credit:Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

What could that mean for a potential LeBron James and NBA plan? It certainly seems to imply FSG won't be looking to buy the Boston Celtics, newly on the market, but there was a potential glimmer of hope for the Las Vegas idea.

“We’re working on a couple of things that we were working on before we got involved here,” said Henry.

“There will be other opportunities, I’m sure, that we’ll look at, but we are fully engaged. We’re not out there, and I think we’ve never been out there, looking for opportunities.”

Liverpool.com says: It sounds as though much depends on whether the whispers of LeBron and Las Vegas were ever something being "worked on" by FSG, or if they were little more than speculation. Unless it's a plan that has already been put into motion in concrete ways, it seems as though it will be taking a back seat for the time-being.

But as Henry says, other opportunities will come around, and will be assessed on their merits when they arise. LeBron need not be in any great rush, given that he is still playing in the NBA.