Almost nine months ago, only a couple weeks after the NBA blocked a trade to send Chris Paul from New Orleans to the Lakers, Kevin Garnett turned his love of soccer into a business interest. He was going to have a limited investment in famed Italian club Roma, even though the club’s ownership group had ties to Boston, including Celtics part-owner James Pallotta. Now the NBA has come through with another denial. It’s unclear why so much time has passed between the news of the agreement and the denial with Pallotta having such obvious ties to both clubs. The Boston Globe talked with a source Sunday about why it was shut down and it’s pretty obvious: conflict of interest.
“If you enter into a business agreement with the owner of a team that doesn’t involve playing service, there are potential problems,” a league source said. “Maybe not in this case. But there is a chance of, say, making a contract a lot larger.”
Garnett’s role or contract with the Celtics feasibly could have benefited from the Roma agreement as a kick back of sorts, a benefit no other NBA player would have. If you’re up on your NBA-players-as-soccer-investors news, you know that LeBron James joined the Fenway Sports Group as an in to getting a small share of English Premier League club Liverpool in the last year (Steve Nash is a part owner with MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps, too). So why is James’ investment not nullified? The Fenway group has ties to the Red Sox, but not the NBA. From the Globe, again:
“With LeBron, there is no tie-in whatsoever, so it’s a different deal,” the source said. “It’s like having a business relationship with Nike. We make it simple â€” you can’t have a business deal with your team, or any other team, because there is the possibility of an underhanded deal there. It’s pretty clear-cut.”
Boston and Rome have been bound together since before the Celtics’ title run in 2008. From a New York Times story in June, Garnett and the Celtics bonded during a trip to Rome in the 2007 offseason. The story didn’t have quotes from Garnett, which leads me to wonder if the deal was already dead by June whether KG would have acknowledged so in an interview. Of the two stars, Garnett’s the one who actually seems like he enjoys the sport — he’s a Chelsea fan, see video below — the most while LBJ’s involvement seems like more of an emotionless, master financial plan. Whether it took this long or not to be nullified, KG’s out of the soccer game until he retires.
What do you think?
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