LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James does an interview during media day at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California, on Sept. 28, 2021. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

SAN FRANCISCO — LeBron James is a billionaire, a designation coming from Forbes magazine.

In addition to nearly $350 million in career earnings in the NBA, James' business interests have nudged him over the threshold, making him the second athlete to eclipse the financial milestone, the magazine said.

Heading into the final year of his contract with the Lakers (James is eligible for an extension), his off-court earnings now dwarf what he makes playing basketball. Among his largest investments are his production company — SpringHill Co. — and shares in the Fenway Sports Group, which owns Liverpool F.C.

James, 37, is widely expected to pursue a larger role in team ownership once he retires from basketball.

The only other basketball billionaire is Michael Jordan, but he didn't reach the milestone until well after he retired when his investment in the Charlotte Hornets increased in value.

James sold a minority stake in SpringHill in October that valued the company at $725 million.

"It was a lot of people in the majority who believed that we would fail. Said that I was making a huge mistake by bringing in my friends to run the business side of what we wanted to do," James said of the founding of SpringHill. "And we used that as motivation. We also used that as a stepping stool to get better. Because we didn't know it all. We knew that.

"We were young kids in a system, in a league that we didn't have much things to base anything off. We were all learning on the fly. But the one thing we all wanted to do: We wanted to work. We wanted to work, we wanted to learn, we wanted to be sponges, we wanted to figure out ways how we can make an impact."

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