Soccer-James eager for role with Beckham's Miami franchise
LOS ANGELES Feb 5 (Reuters) - Miami Heat forward LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, said on Wednesday he hoped to be involved with David Beckham's plan to bring a Major League Soccer (MLS) team to Miami.
Former England soccer captain Beckham, who has become a close friend of James in recent years and often attends Heat games in Miami, announced earlier on Wednesday he had exercised his option to become the owner of an MLS team in that city.
"Hopefully I can be," James told Reuters when asked if he was involved in Beckham's bid to build a world-class soccer team, as yet unnamed, in Florida.
"Right now, there are some things that need to be worked out but I think it's exciting for the city of Miami."
James, who spoke to Reuters shortly before taking to the court in Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, already has a minority ownership stake with English Premier League team Liverpool.
The 10-time National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star and twice NBA champion has developed a good knowledge of soccer over the past two years and met several of the Liverpool players when he toured the club in 2012.
"I have grown a great interest in watching the game and learning the guys," James, 29, told reporters in November about his burgeoning appreciation for soccer.
"It's a pretty intense sport and 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.
"David (Beckham) has become a good friend of mine over the last few years and Miami is a great town for soccer."
Former midfielder Beckham, whose commitment to MLS dates back to 2007 when he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy, retired as a player last May and held a $25 million option in his MLS contract to start a new franchise.
That option was exercised shortly before it expired on Dec. 31, and on Tuesday he signed a shareholder agreement with his two partners, the British TV producer and creator of American Idol Simon Fuller, and Bolivian-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, founder of Miami-based Brightstar Corp.
A final deal to grant the franchise to Beckham's investment group could be several months away though, sources close to the negotiations said, with a stadium location and financing still requiring approval from the MLS board for his team to become the 22nd club of the top U.S. professional soccer league.