John Henry Hearts LeBron James

When I first heard the news about Fenway Sports Group’s deal with LeBron James I did not react well. Here’s what I said on Twitter:

“I will not be able to read anything else about LeBron’s deal with LFC and Fenway Sports Group AFTER I GOUGE MY EYES OUT.”

…and then, a few seconds later:

“I expect Peyton Manning to soon buy a stake in Bob Kraft’s paper company and Wyc Grousbeck to invest VC funds in Kobe’s new startup.”

So yeah, the news that the owners of the Red Sox were not only selling a small chunk of their soccer team to the Celtics’ number 2 enemy (sorry LeBron, Kobe’s still numero uno), but entering into a deal to actively represent and promote him did not sit well with me. Then I calmed down, thought about it, went to sleep, reflected on how I shouldn’t post things on Twitter in the heat of the moment, and came to the conclusion, once again, that John Henry and Tom Werner are really good at what they do. This deal works for both LeBron and FSG, and whatever works for FSG gets the Sox more money to spend on players (you know, the type of players who start off the season with five six losses). Here’s my breakdown of the rationales:

What Fenway Sports Group gets: LeBron as a frontman for Liverpool. That helps LFC gain traction, not only in the US, but also in the always important Chinese market, where LeBron is of course hugely popular. FSG’s sports-marketing wing also gets exclusive world-wide rights to rep LeBron, a huge boon considering that “LeBron” is one of the biggest brands in sports. He’s down now, but once people forget about The Decision, he’ll be fine again. Think Kobe post Colorado. I bet you didn’t even remember that Kobe once stood accused of rape, which so far as I can tell, is somewhat worse than deciding you’d rather live in Miami than Cleveland.

What LeBron gets: To own a piece of one of the world’s most famous soccer teams. That’s pretty cool. He also gets access to FSG’s now international network of connections. Remember, aside from owning the Sox, Liverpool, and a NASCAR team (Fenway-Roush), Fenway Sports Group also does over $60 million a year (that figure according to the previously linked Wall St. Journal article) in sports-marketing business.

If we’re lucky, the only real loser will be LeBron’s favorite baseball team, the Yankees, who will find it ever harder to keep up with the increasingly flush Sox in the off-season.