LeBron James won’t be a hands-off co-owner of the Boston Red Sox, according to Fenway Sports Group chairman Tom Werner.
In an interview with The Athletic published Friday morning, Werner said he would be “surprised” if the Los Angeles Lakers superstar and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter “don’t weigh in” on the management decisions of both the Red Sox and Liverpool FC, the two flagship teams owned by FSG.
“I would welcome their thoughts,” Werner said, adding that he considers Carter “to be one of my closest friends.”
“I’ve spent hours with him talking about strategy, coaching, the lessons that I’ve learned from [Liverpool manager] Jurgen Klopp, and the lessons that he’s learned as an astute observer of basketball,” Werner said. “We have a very collaborative relationship, so I would actually say that their wisdom and their experience is going to be hugely helpful to us going forward.”
Werner’s comments came after FSG announced Wednesday that investment firm RedBird Capital Partners had officially purchased a roughly 10 percent stake in the $7.35 billion company as part of a deal — first reported by The Boston Globe on March 16 — that included James, Carter, and their business partner Paul Wachter exchanging their previously held stake in Liverpool FC to become part of FSG’s ownership group. John Henry, who also owns the Globe and Boston.com, continues to have the largest stake in the company as FSG’s principal owner.
Werner also told The Athletic that he thinks James and Carter, as the first Black part-owners in FSG’s two-decade history, will provide “better representation of baseball to our fans.” Werner noted that the team has a “complicated history when it comes to race relations,” which includes being the last MLB team to sign a Black player, reportedly racist owners and managers in the mid-20th century, and more recent incidents of racist abuse aimed at players, fans, and Fenway Park employees.
During the 2019 season, the last time the Red Sox played in front of fans prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were seven reported incidents of fans at Fenway Park using racial slurs, according to the team.
“We want to feel that the Red Sox are an inclusive place where everybody feels welcome,” Werner told The Athletic. “And while that may seem like an obvious notion today, the Red Sox have had a very complicated history when it comes to race relations. We work very hard to create a more diverse and inclusive organization from top to bottom. And I’m excited that LeBron and Maverick are owners of the Boston Red Sox because I believe this helps provide better representation of baseball to our fans.”
To that end, James and Carter have indicated that they also hope to help advance that cause.
“We are proud to be part of this iconic ownership group and are excited about the opportunities that come with that to continue creating change and empowering people of every race, gender and background to be part of the process,” Carter said in a statement Wednesday.
James said last month that it was “pretty damn cool” to be one of the first Black owners of the historic team.
“It gives me and people that look like me hope and inspiration that they can be in a position like that as well,” he said.
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