Over the weekend came news that a group of Chinese investors were looking to buy a 15 percent stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a big deal, not least because it would mean the Chinese now own most of our debt and a share of our favorite basketball player.
The Cavs' new investor is reportedly a Hong Kong-based conglomerate called New World Development Co., though the company flatly denies it. What's hilarious is that we have reached a level of affection for LeBron such that every news event about the Cavaliers — even a shrewd bit of business like this — must be viewed first and foremost through the prism of James' pending free agency. From The New York Times:
The move will be interpreted as an effort by the Cavaliers to entice James, who will become a free agent after next season, to stay in Cleveland and capitalize on the franchise's connections in China. James has said that he wants to become the first athlete worth a billion dollars.
"This is just another example of Dan Gilbert trying to appeal to LeBron and building the case for why he should re-sign," said Mark S. Rosentraub, a sports business analyst and a professor at Cleveland State University, referring to the Cavaliers' majority owner.
LeBron, for his part, could barely contain his excitement: "It could be good. It should be fun."
Above all, the deal turns the Cavs ownership group into the front end of a bad joke. Usher, a bunch of Chinese businessmen and a blind guy walk into a boardroom ...
Sources: Chinese investors close to purchasing share of Cleveland Cavaliers [Plain Dealer]