Could LeBron James be five years away from buying the Phoenix Suns?

Phoenix Suns, LeBron James (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, LeBron James (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /

LeBron James has made it clear that his post-playing career will include owning an NBA team. Could the Phoenix Suns be a franchise that he could ever have interest in?

Make no bones about it: Phoenix Suns fan’s opinions of owner Robert Sarver swing from a small pendulum of distrust to hate and polling shows no signs of improving as the franchise continues to tumble into the darkest depths of the armpit of the NBA it has ever experienced.

For fans who wish that Sarver would sell immediately, unfortunately his age is likely not going to play a profound role in his decision-making process as he is only 58-years-old, meaning that the odds that age tearing down at his energy and desire to run a team probably will not kick in for at least a decade, and if we’re being fully honest with ourselves, even two or more.

But one never knows, he could eventually get sick of the whole thing and want to move on; he could be mentally exhausted from all of the struggles that a losing franchise should  bring upon an owner’s psyche; he might prefer to see himself sipping myties on the beach of a deserted island somewhere near the equator in February rather than attempting to finagle another owner over an additional second round pick in a trade; and like retirement for an average 58-year-old American, selling the team could actually be on the horizon rather than off in the distance.

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Which leads every fan’s mind to the question: whenever he does move on from the franchise, who could potentially buy the team then, and is it possible that they are worse  than Sarver?

Speculation runs abound in these situations, and while in the short-term, if Sarver were to sell, say, this summer, fans would clamor at the idea of Bryan Colangelo putting together a group to buy the team, if time goes buy and Sarver only becomes interested in moving on in around five or so years, is it possible that a current uber-star could be the one who might be capable of writing the necessary check?

LeBron James is 34-years-old and still on top of the basketball world. But 34 isn’t young in professional sports, even for an athlete as in perfect shape as he is – especially for a player who has been playing professional basketball for 16 seasons. At some point in the next few years his abilities will diminish and he will be forced to look the end of his playing career direct in the eyes.

While he has yet to show any real diminishing skills, it will happen at some point, and James will probably put forth an exit strategy that will allow him to potentially move straight into ownership as soon as his career is over with maybe only a year or two at most between player retirement

and the purchasing of a franchise.

The primary questions necessary in the decision-making process for him will be: what franchises might be available at that time; which ones will  be available; and are those franchises in a metaphorical peak physical condition themselves and if not, will they be in need of rehabilitation?

He will absolutely want to know if he can slide right in more seamlessly and continue the successful tradition produced by the previous owner, or will he essentially be starting from the ground up?

Robert Sarver entered his ownership of the Phoenix Suns with that seamless transition where the franchise was near the top of the NBA world.

Whether or not he leaves the franchise in a similar state or not is entirely up to him.

For Suns fans, the primary question for those interested in a LeBron ownership would be: would Phoenix be a destination, regardless of the state that Sarver is leaving it in, that LeBron would even consider?

As mentioned, it would all be about who is available at the time he wants to buy, so anyone who immediately thinks “he’ll only buy a team like the Lakers or Knicks, or go home to Cleveland,” if none of those teams are available, he cannot buy them.

And it’s not like there isn’t recent precedence that a superstar who is not from a particular state or region wouldn’t mind buying a team from out of their original or current home town.

Michael Jordan was of course the owner of the Washington Wizards prior to his returning to play (he had to sell his share in order to step back on the court), and was only later finally able to buy the Charlotte Hornets – North Carolina of course being his home state.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

While I would not predict that LeBron would retire, buy the Suns, and then sell the team so he can end his retirement and join Phoenix on the court (I believe that James will milk out every ounce of his playing ability before he retires), if the Suns are available and he wants to purchase a team, there is no reason to think that for any external reason Phoenix would be off the table for him.

For those fans too that hate LeBron on the court and therefore would hate him as the franchise’s owner (and maybe point to Jordan and the fact that he has never been able to convert the success that he had as a player into similar success as an owner), fans could bank on one specific thing that at least should provide hope that he wouldn’t do worse than Sarver has: while Sarver announced to Planet Orange during his initial press conference that “I don’t know much about basketball,” no potential owner of the Suns could ever know more  about basketball than LeBron James would.

In other words, if competition is a general crap shoot in who is going to win and who is going to lose, having an owner who will go down in history as a player who’s resume demands his face to forever be etched onto a basketball version of Mount Rushmore, will do far  more good and give a franchise far  more of a leg up than literally any other potential owner could ever provide.

The benefit too of LeBron James purchasing a franchise very soon after retirement would certainly be beneficial as well as the number of players in the league who would have played with and against him, and thus know him on a personal level would be extremely high – therefore, when LeBron asks “do you want to come play with us,” the answer is far more likely to be “yes” out of respect to The King.

Not to mention James will have been in the public eye as a player during the next generation’s formative years, so those young stars who entered the league after LeBron’s retirement and thus never had the opportunity to play with/against him, will still very much know who he is and revere him tremendously, again, opening the door for an easier line of recruitment.

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Unless Robert Sarver shows a miraculous turnaround with the franchise beginning…now, somehow washing away the bad taste in fan’s mouths of the past nine years (and most especially the last three), he could actually do fans a tremendous solid and at least on a small level raise his level of favor by a visible amount, by finding a way to guarantee a sale of the franchise to LeBron James – if Sarver has no intention of selling the franchise between now and the time James is planning on making that move.

If Sarver were to somehow guarantee to LeBron that he will hold onto the franchise until James retires and then make the franchise available to him for purchase, that kind of a passing on the torch would do wonders for the franchise and the fanbase, at least giving fans the knowledge that the next owner will, if nothing else, have been one of the greatest players of all-time, which at least gives the team a guaranteed chance at success that any other owner from any other background could not promise.

While this all might just be fantasy, it is, at least, hope, and for a franchise like the Phoenix Suns, hope, right now, is all we’ve got.

So who knows: maybe five or so years from now we’ll all be chanting: All praise The King?