LeBron James' business acumen has been celebrated informally, but now a new honor has boosted the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar to new heights.
James has become the first active athlete to make SportsBusiness Daily's list of the 50 most influential people in sports. The list is usually reserved for commissioners and owners.
James and the Cavaliers' owner, Dan Gilbert, are ranked 26th. Here's what the publication had to say about the duo:
"Two figures connected for different reasons. Gilbert was surprisingly successful in luring James back to Cleveland and has the Cavs profiting greatly from James’ homecoming. Gilbert also is greatly influencing the makeover of two American cities with his investments in Detroit and Cleveland. James has transcended his status as an athlete, virtually single-handedly defining the NBA free agent market for a second time while continuing to rule the endorsement world and keep his hands in several business ventures"
James dictated the NBA free agent market last summer, as every major free agent waited on him before making a decision. James also cleverly signed a two-year deal with the Cavaliers, anticipating that the new salary cap that will kick in after the 2015-2016 season will allow him to demand more money.
Only 29 years old (he'll turn 30 later this month), James has been praised by none other than Warren Buffet for his business acumen. Endorsements included, James is the highest-paid player in the NBA and the third-highest paid athlete in the world.
James and Gilbert were in good company. The list included NBA commissioner Adam Silver (No. 1), ESPN president John Skipper (No. 2) and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer (No. 13), among others.