With his acquisition of a stake in the Red Sox, LeBron James joined a wider trend of professional athletes breaking into the rarified air of sports franchise ownership.

The Los Angeles Lakers star and his longtime friend, Maverick Carter, last month became the newest partners in the Fenway Sports Group, the behemoth also known as FSG that owns the Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Park and a majority stake in NESN. James had already had an ownership stake in Liverpool.

James was enthusiastic about the deal when speaking to reporters after a recent Lakers game.

“Well first of all, it’s great to be with such a great group with FSG," he told reporters. "They’ve done so many great things over the years, and just that collective group of people — they’re just amazing to be partners with.”

James coming on board provides a big boost to FSG's brand at a time when the group is looking to expand. The investment also comes as athletes are becoming more common fixtures in front offices across pro sports.

“And of course one of the reasons for that is it’s only been in moderately recent years that athletes have been paid well enough to earn the sort of money they need to be able to own these teams," said Victor Matheson, a professor at the College of the Holy Cross who studies sports economics.

Matheson points to the early case of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mario Lemieux, who took over as majority owner of the team in 1999 and came out of retirement to play for the team the next year.

Last year, two active athletes got into the act. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes bought a share of the Royals, and basketball star Kevin Durant acquired
a five percent stake in the Philadelphia Union soccer team.

Former athletes like Magic Johnson and LeBron's ex-teammate Dwayne Wade have also entered the ownership game.

“One question is really what happens in terms of labor management relations and how athletes get treated by management and how that affects the negotiating positions of the athletes when you actually have athletes on the other side of the coin as well," Matheson said.

LeBron's role as a partner with FSG may not immediately change what’s going on at the bargaining table, but his presence is making an impact in other ways: James and Carter are the first Black partners in FSG history, making them part-owners of the last MLB team to integrate.

“I think for me and for my partner Maverick, to be the first two Black men to be a part of that ownership group in the history of that franchise, I think it’s pretty damn cool," James said.

Across the board, Black ownership in sports is rare. In the four major men’s American sports leagues, the only Black majority owner is Michael Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA.

While any sort of representation at the highest levels of sport is a positive, Joseph Cooper, a professor who researches gender and race in sport at UMass Boston, cautions that just having a Black owner doesn’t necessarily equate with change — even if he happens to be one of the richest athletes on the planet who has amassed a fortune in a career that has lasted much longer than the average NBA lifespan.

“If he remains owner of Liverpool and the Red Sox for the next 30 years, but the numbers of African Americans playing baseball don’t increase, the number of African American managers doesn’t increase, the number of African American owners, partial or majority, doesn’t increase, then essentially we’re in the spot that we’re in now," Cooper said. "You just have one LeBron, who’s ... the exception to the rule rather than the rule itself.”

But listening to LeBron, he has no plans to stop at being a part-owner.

“I’ve always said that my goal is to own a team," he said. "Own an NBA team.”

That’s own, full stop. LeBron, a four-time NBA champion who is starring in the sequel to Space Jam this summer, has a slew of other business ventures off the court. And, he is one of a handful of players that people talk about as the greatest NBA player ever. For him, owning a NBA franchise may just be the last resume padder he has left when his career is said and done.