LeBron James, David Beckham Discussing Miami MLS Franchise

Ethan Skolnick@@EthanJSkolnickNBA Senior WriterNovember 18, 2013

USA Today

LeBron James, coming off 39- and 30-point performances over the weekend, continues to take an interest in a sport in which scoring is quite a bit more scarce.

On Monday, James, who invested in Liverpool FC in April 2011 as part of the Fenway Sports Group, confirmed that he has spoken with retired English star David Beckham about the latter's attempt to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Miami.

The Fusion, the last MLS team to call South Florida home, played in Fort Lauderdale and folded in 2001.

"There’s some interest on both sides," James said. "David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years. I think it would be great for this city to have a football club for sure. There’s interest on both sides, but it’s preliminary talks."

As part of his contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham received the option to buy a franchise for $25 million, and he has targeted Miami. Miami, however, already has four major professional teams, and three of them—the Florida Panthers, Miami Marlins and Miami Dolphins—aren't drawing especially well. The Miami Heat are the exception, largely due to James' presence.

Beckham chatting with retired NBA player turned Dodgers owner Magic Johnson.
Beckham chatting with retired NBA player turned Dodgers owner Magic Johnson.Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

And, at best, James would be in an owner's box for a soccer franchise. Small-stake ownership hasn't proven a boon for the Dolphins, who brought Serena Williams, Jennifer Lopez and others aboard.

Still, James appeared to be sold on the potential of the project.

"I think it could be huge," James said. "You never know. I think this is a great town for soccer. There’s a lot of soccer players, there’s great youth soccer players here and people love the city as well. That definitely would help."

Last season, when I asked James to name his five favorite athletes in other sports, Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona was on his list.

"I've grown a great interest in watching the game and learning the guys," James said. "It’s a pretty intense sport. My kids love it as well. I’ve grown to the point where I know exactly what’s going on when I’m watching the game."

This interest in a major Miami project might curtail some of the growing speculation that James will explore free agency this summer, when he can opt out of his Heat contract. At the very least, this endeavor suggests that he's acclimating to South Florida.

James, according to sources close to him, has explored commercial real estate opportunities over the past year, and his wife Savannah recently opened The Juice Spot, an organic juice and smoothie shop, in the trendy Brickell area of Miami.

Maybe they'll open a soccer shop next door.