Over the weekend we learned that Martin Luther King III is interested in becoming one of Fred Wilpon’s “strategic partners.” Last night he released a statement confirming this interest:
“I believe in the merit and American value of creating an example, and if I personally, or as part of a collective, can advance the vision of a more diverse ownership group in professional sports, domestically or internationally, then, like my father, I am prepared to act in that spirit. There has been a lot of discussion and speculation about my participation in the acquisition of the New York Mets. The public release of those discussions was premature.”
King is planning on meeting with the Wilpons this week.
I may be wrong about this, but I don’t recall King ever being mentioned as a potential owner or head of an ownership group. I imagine, however, that the Mets sale is going to bring out a lot of unusual suspects. It’s been a while since either the Mets or Yankees sold, and since then the value of those franchises compared to all of the others has become apparent. That said, I continue to believe that the Wilpons will have a hard time simply selling off a quarter of the team, either because they owe too much to government for that to make sense for them or because potential buyers realize that they have an opportunity to take the team over rather than merely be satisfied with a non-controlling share. As Joel Sherman reports, Major League Baseball officials feel the same way. They’ve gone so far as to call the Wilpons “delusional” in this regard.
As for King himself: his career has been a tad spotty. He lost reelection as a Fulton County commissioner in the early 90s after revealing that he owed the federal government more than $200,000 in back taxes. He was suspended as the head of the Southern Christian Leadership conference after the board cited him for inactivity and insubordination to the board’s interests (though he came back and improved in the role). Some have charged that King has sought to commercialize his father’s legacy by doing things like licensing (for profit) the “I have a dream” speech and suing media outlets who use it without the family’s authorization.
Of course, given that he’s seeking to enter a fraternity that includes Frank McCourt, David Glass and Jeff Loria, none of this should be a concern.